87th Saudi National Day celebration takes center stage

A Saudi girl waves a national flag as she stands by her seat in a stadium, attending an event in the capital Riyadh on Saturday commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2017
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87th Saudi National Day celebration takes center stage

RIYADH: The 87th National Day celebrations in the Kingdom took center stage on Saturday with an atmosphere pervaded by euphoric excitement engendered by the various activities lined up to mark the annual historic event.
“The National Day is a precious occasion in which the sons of this country remember the historical saga that was made by the Kingdom’s founder King Abdul Aziz,” Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad said.
Al-Awwad said that “the noble sons of King Abdul Aziz followed him with a wise vision and a sound approach toward the foundations of a strong civilized state that united under the banner of eternal unification.”
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Sawah congratulated the people, the king and crown prince on the occasion of the 87th National Day.
Al-Sawah also lauded the Kingdom’s wise leadership for the successful march and rapid development being witnessed by Saudi Arabia at all levels.
He also expressed gratitude and appreciation for the Kingdom’s ongoing development and growth under the visionary leadership that paid special attention to the telecommunications and information technology sector in the country.
In keeping with the occasion, the Saudi capital is decked out in green — the color of the national flag — as an indication of patriotic enthusiasm, while the Kingdom is celebrating the National Day with traditional gaiety and patriotic fervor.
The early hours of Sept. 23 witnessed the birth of the first child at the King Saud Medical City on this auspicious day, which was announced by the hospital on its Twitter account.
The hospital held a celebration after the preparation of one medical room with national words, green shawls and clips containing the words “Homeland in our hearts.”
Festivities showed people — both young and old — dancing in the streets or in programs held in various venues such as hotels, auditoriums and convention centers in celebration of the historic event.
Television channels showed programs which featured young Saudi girls deftly and gracefully dancing in their white dresses with belts in green which symbolized the Kingdom’s color.
Many Saudi nationals were also seen driving cars painted in the national color to celebrate the 87th National Day. Boys were seen enthusiastically distributing national flags and sweets to motorists waiting for traffic signals to turn green on the Kingdom’s various roads.
There were also green lights in underpasses and on bridges, as well as banners and posters with congratulatory remarks and photos of the king and crown prince.
With the Saudi people in a celebratory mode, King Fahd and Khurais roads experienced traffic snarls, with cars moving at a snail’s pace on Friday night. Heavy traffic was also expected Saturday night, as in the past, when the citizens of the city go out to drive the Saudi capital’s main thoroughfares in a celebratory mode.
The Saudi nationals’ patriotic zeal and enthusiasm also rubbed off on expatriate workers, who were also excited and joined local counterparts in their celebration.


On track for 2030? Movers and shakers in KSA look ahead

Kingdom tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 September 2018
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On track for 2030? Movers and shakers in KSA look ahead

  • “The comprehensiveness of Vision 2030 and the wider horizons it addresses positively transform the Saudi citizen’s life to become more integrative and enjoy new prosperity," says Dr. Saad Saleh Al-Rwaita.
  • Cybersecurity has a crucial role to play in accomplishing Vision 2030 objectives, explained Dr. Areej Alhogail.

RIYADH: Saudi Vision 2030 kicked off with the aim of boosting non-oil revenues through capitalizing on current assets, utilizing resources, and starting up new industries.

In order to reach the objectives outlined in the plan, government bodies have launched many initiatives, which have proceeded with the support of the private sector as firms have cooperated through developing their strategic plans, and overcome many challenges. 

The 88th Saudi National Day provides an opportunity not only to celebrate unification, but also to look back on the achievements of Vision 2030 and take stock of how it is paving the way to economic reforms while carving out enhanced influence for its citizens on the world stage.

Here both public and private sector leaders who contribute to the economic transition plan share their thoughts on Vision 2030. 

Homam Hashem, Chief Executive Officer at Kafalah Fund, a financing guarantee program for small- and medium-sized enterprises, commented: ”One of the main objectives of Vision 2030 is to increase the contribution of the SME private sector to 35% of GDP. Small and medium enterprises have a significant impact on raising growth rates by raising financing opportunities and providing ways of success for the advancement of the sector. The program has contributed by raising the ceiling of guarantees for regular guarantees and developing specialized programs for the sectors (tourism, working capital support, and emerging enterprises). It has also attracted new sectors such as businesswomen and promising regions by providing additional incentives and developing many incentives that contribute to support raising local lending rates for small and medium enterprises up to 20% by 2030. The focus was on supporting the sectors that are compatible with the Kingdom's vision 2030 and diversifying the means of support.” 

Dr. Fahad Al-Shathri, Deputy Governor of Supervision at the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), said: “In view of the demographic challenges, Saudi Arabia cannot solely rely on the same economic model as during the past five decades, namely oil. Twelve years from now, I would expect the economy to be more dynamic and to have multiple sectors driving growth and job creation, including tourism and logistics. Entrepreneurship will be the central focus for young people in future, inspired by the great accomplishments of their peers. These will be the new drivers of the economy that Vision 2030 is aiming at, and we hope that everyone will strive to contribute to its success.”

As education will play a crucial role in the development of human capital in the Kingdom, we asked Alfaisal University president Dr. Mohammed Al-Hayaza for his take. The former Shoura Council member said: “The Ministry of Education has taken unprecedented measures to ensure that our institutes of higher education are both the best in the region and top-ranked internationally. Vision 2030 has developed job specifications for each field of education, and by utilizing these specifications Alfaisal University is closing the gap between the learning outcomes of higher education and that of the demands of the job market through continued targeted alignment.”

Dr. Saad Saleh Al-Rwaita, Vice-Rector for administrative and financial affairs at Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, commented: “The comprehensiveness of Vision 2030 and the wider horizons it addresses positively transform the Saudi citizen’s life to become more integrative and enjoy new prosperity. 

The Vision will safeguard the Kingdom against dependence on circumstantial changes of the natural resources market and being influenced by external factors that are beyond our control, while empowering the Kingdom to create change and exert influence that surpass the local reality to direct the international compass and take the initiative, particularly in the economic field, in order to guarantee a bright future for the future generations.”

Looking to the real estate sector, Ehab Al Dabbagh, CEO of real estate development firm Ijmal, said the industry was likely to see big changes in future: “Firstly, the demand for housing products would be met. Technology and industrial progression will play a major role in building a variety of eco-friendly housing products. Houses could be ordered through an online application and fabricated in weeks.”

Another vital contributor in Vision 2030 is the food industry. Engineer Abdul-Mohsen Al-Yahya, who founded the chain of fast food restaurants Kudo, and currently an investor in supply and support at the food sector, said: “From my own experience in food services for more than 30 years in Saudi Arabia, I believe that in future the food service sector will continue to grow with more investments, products diversity and quality will increase, while continuing to become an extension of economic growth in Saudi Arabia and a key industry generating employment opportunities.”

Cybersecurity has a crucial role to play in accomplishing Vision 2030 objectives, explained Dr. Areej Alhogail, assistant professor in the Department of Information Systems at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, who sits on the Saudi group of information security, said: “The Kingdom has taken pioneering steps, such as establishing the National Cybersecurity Authority, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, and allocating scholarships in the field of information security. (These initiatives) will enable the Kingdom to be at the forefront of countries in the field of cybersecurity by 2030, and will protect the local economy, perhaps attracting foreign investments in various fields of information to be the ideal environment of trained local professionals and advanced laboratories and legislation protection.”