Era of modernity: Saudis celebrate three years of King Salman’s rule

King Salman has been credited with turning Saudi Arabia into a country economically open to the world.
Updated 21 December 2017

Era of modernity: Saudis celebrate three years of King Salman’s rule

MAKKAH: Saudis on Thursday are celebrating the third anniversary of the accession of King Salman to the throne (according to the Islamic Hijri calendar).
Over the past three years, King Salman has been credited with turning Saudi Arabia into a country that is economically open to the world through its Vision 2030 plan.
Saudi Arabia has remained a G-20 member during his rule, led an international coalition to fight Houthi militias in Yemen and has liberated more than 85 percent of the country.
During his rule, the work of expanding the Two Holy Mosques has continued, a developmental shift has occurred in industry and new job opportunities have been provided. A state has been designed with modern regulations and non-oil income sources have been diversified to make Saudi Arabia an industrially developed country.
King Salman is known as a leading cultural figure, and those close to him say that he is a keen reader with a good memory. He has supported the empowerment of women, the development of sport and entertainment including allowing cinemas, and launched projects to help the petrochemical sector.
He has also established the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) and formed a new vision for geostrategic balances.
King Salman has spent his life designing and building strategic plans. He served for five decades as governor of Riyadh, which he turned into a modern city. During five decades, Riyadh has seen an unprecedented cultural renaissance. He is also known for his interest in antiquities.
Saad Al-Joudi Al-Sharif, a modern history teacher, told Arab News that King Salman has dedicated his country’s political power to serving the nation’s issues, and most importantly the Palestinian cause and the claim of Jerusalem as an Arab capital.
Despite the economic and political challenges facing the region, King Salman was able to challenge Iranian influence in four Arab capitals (Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa).
Al-Sharif said King Salman is interested in promoting national security, defense, the army and national guards’ capacities, as well as providing Saudi forces with the latest weapons.
King Salman has acquired an international reputation for honesty and peace, Al-Sharif said. Saudi Arabia has helped the weak around the world and supported them against disasters caused by floods and other crises.
Al-Sharif concluded: “In addition to the great services King Salman has provided to Muslims around the world, he has also supported and developed the work of moderate Islam.”
Talal Nour, an economics expert, told Arab News that King Salman has encouraged writers, researchers, intellectuals and journalists to be responsible and safe when performing their work.
Nour said: “King Salman has worked on multiplying efforts to achieve the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries’ safety, out of his concern to ensure stability in the Arab region and to serve joint interests, achieve the expectations of leaders and people, and promote regional security and international peace.”

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

Kingdom tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 September 2018

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.”