This video by CaspianReport discusses “Saudi Vision 2030,” a plan proposed by the government of Saudi Arabia that seeks to reduce the countries dependence on oil, diversify its growing economy, and develop public service industries such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism. The goals of the plan include reinforcing economic and investment activities, increasing non-oil industry trade between countries through consumer goods, and increasing government spending on the military. The details of the plan were first announced on April 25, 2016, by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), and the Council of Ministers has tasked the Council of Economic and Development Affairs with identifying and monitoring the mechanisms and measures crucial for the implementation of “Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.”
The main rationale behind the Saudi Vision 2020 plan is to decrease the dependence that the Saudi economy has on oil revenues. The oil industry comprises close to 50% of Suadi Arabia’s total GDP, and the Saudi government has sought to decrease its reliance on oil revenues since the 1970s with an overall poor track record of success. The core priority of the Saudi government is to be able to develop more alternative sources of revenue for the government such as taxes, fees and income from the sovereign wealth fund. Another significant proposal is to lower the dependency of the citizens of the country on public spendings such as spending on subsidies and higher salaries and to increase the portion of the economy contributed by the private sector to provide more employment opportunities and to provide growth in the GDP.
Suadi Vision 2020 has three main pillars: the status of the country as the “heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds,” the determination to become a global investment powerhouse, and to transform the country’s location into a hub connecting three of the most influential areas of the world (Western Asia, Europe, and Africa). The plan is supervised by a group of people employed under the National Center for Performance Measurement, the Delivery Unit, and the Project Management Office of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. The National Transformation Program was designed and launched in 2016 across 24 government bodies to enhance the economic and development center
Saudi Vision 2030 is built around four major themes which set out specific objectives that are to be achieved by 2030. The four themes are:
A vibrant society: urbanism, culture and entertainment, sports, Umrah, UNESCO heritage sites, life expectancy.
A thriving economy: Employment, women in the workforce, international competitiveness, Public Investment Fund, Foreign direct investment, the private sector, non-oil exports
An ambitious nation: Non-oil revenues, government effectiveness, and e-government, household savings and income, non-profits and volunteering.
Projects: About 80 major projects are to be developed in Saudi Arabia by the year 2030. Most of these projects are financed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
One such project that is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 is the National Transformation Program. First approved on June 7, 2016, the National Transformation Programa sets out the goals and targets to be achieved by the Kingdom by 2020. It is the first out of three phases each lasting for five years. Each step will accomplish a certain number of goals and targets that will eventually help the Kingdom in reaching the ultimate goals of Vision 2030. To assist the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to finance all the projects to be developed and facilitate the process of achieving the goals and targets of Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced in early 2016 that an IPO of Saudi ARAMCO is going to take place. However, only 5% of the company will be offered on the stock market. Other projects put forward under the Saudi Vision 2030 plan are the construction of a luxury resort located on the Red Sea between the cities of Umluj and Al-Wajh, the expansion of the Saudi entertainment industry, and the expansion of women’s rights. In the realm of women’s rights, the Saudi Vision 2030 plan seeks to grant women the right to vote, own property, travel abroad freely, and attend higher education facilities.
Overall, the international reaction to the Saudi Vision 2030 plan has been somewhat mixed. Many critics argue that the lack of formal political institutions, inefficient bureaucracy and a significant gap between the labor force required by the Saudi labor market and current educational system serve as a hindrance on many of the growth prospects that the country has proposed. Other critics argue that much like the “White Revolution” reform plan implemented by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran in 1962/63, the Saudi Vision 2030 plan does not take into account the fact that rapid reform efforts may not be entirely accepted by the Saudi population, and that a slow and gradual reform plan would be a more viable policy to implement. Despite some criticism towards the reform proposals, many international observers feel that it represents a genuine opportunity for the Saudi government to reform and create a far more positive view on the country in the eyes of the international community.
Here is a link to the video: