Saudi Arabia’s journey: From 1932 to 2030 and beyond

Saudi Arabia has embarked on a plan to boost renewable energy. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 September 2018

Saudi Arabia’s journey: From 1932 to 2030 and beyond

  • The outdated views about the Kingdom do no justice to the modern Saudi Arabia of 2018 — nor to where it’s heading
  • Saudi Arabia is rich in its youth, its leadership, and its bold plan to transform over the next 12 years in a way it has never done before

RIYADH: There are several shorthand terms for Saudi Arabia bandied around in the press: “Oil-rich,” perhaps, or “the desert Kingdom.”

Neither, of course, does justice to the modern Saudi Arabia of 2018 — nor to where the Kingdom is heading over the next 12 years.

On Sept. 23, Saudi Arabia observes National Day, in recognition of the date in 1932 on which the country was founded by King Abdul Aziz, known in the West as Ibn Saud.

It was during King Abdul Aziz’s reign that oil was discovered in commercial quantities, when in March 1938 “black gold” was struck at the site known as Dammam Well No. 7, or “the Prosperity Well.”

And prosper Saudi Arabia did. The oil boom brought untold riches to the Kingdom — yet the country became over-reliant on the energy industry, forming what Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called an “addiction” to oil.

It is the crown prince’s bold — and, say many, ambitious — Vision 2030 reform plan that aims to overcome that addiction. 

The plan, unveiled in 2016, is a comprehensive blueprint for the future, laying out a strategy, and clear targets, to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.

Under the spirit of the plan, a raft of changes have already taken place. Musical concerts and cinemas have made a comeback, women have been given the right to drive as of June this year, and the economy has opened up more to foreign investment. 

Saudi Arabia — despite, as some news outlets tell us, being so “oil rich” — is also embarking on a plan to boost renewable energy. As part of the Vision 2030 program, Saudi Arabia plans to meet 10 percent of its power demand from renewable sources by 2023 — and it fully expects to exceed this target. The country’s planned megacity — the $500 billion NEOM project, announced last year — will run entirely on renewables. 

It is for these reasons that Arab News is looking forward, rather than back, on this year’s National Day.

In our Saudi National Day section, we delve into myriad aspects of this changing Kingdom, from how the youth — surely the country’s most valuable resource — perceive the future of the country, to the various megaprojects underway, women’s empowerment, and the entertainment revolution being seen in country where cinemas, until very recently, were banned. 

This is complemented by a new section on the Arab News website called “Road to 2030” where you will find all the latest news, analysis and opinion about the reforms. 

As is becoming increasingly clear to the world, Saudi Arabia is no longer a “desert Kingdom,” nor will it be oil-rich forever. 

It is rich in other ways: In its youth, its leadership, and its bold plan to transform over the next 12 years in a way it has never done before.


2 more Houthi drones shot down by Saudi-led Coalition forces

Updated 27 min 54 sec ago

2 more Houthi drones shot down by Saudi-led Coalition forces

  • Three drones, six ballistic missiles launched toward Saudi Arabia by Houthis in a span of 24 hours
  • All six missiles and three drones were shot down by Coalition air defenses

JEDDAH: Two more drones launched by Houthi "terrorists" from Sanaa toward Saudi Arabia were shot down early Monday, the ninth hit in a span of 24 hours, Coalition forces supporting Yemen's legitimate government said .

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al-Maliki said the two drones were intercepted and shot down in Yemeni airspace by Saudi-led air defense forces.

On Sunday evening, six ballistic missiles fired from Yemen were also intercepted by the coalition as they headed towards Jazan in south-west Saudi Arabia.

Al-Maliki said the missiles were launched by Houthis from Saada province "in an attempt to target civilian and civilian installations in Jazan city.” 

Earlier on Sunday, the coalition shot down a Houthi drone targeting the Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt, state news agency SPA reported.

The drone attack targeting Khamis Mushayt, state was the second on the city in recent days. 

Earlier this month, 10 drones attacked the Shaybah natural gas liquefaction plant in Saudi Arabia near the UAE border. The attack caused no injuries and did not disrupt operations, Saudi Arabia said.

Al-Maliki said the attacks reflect the size of the Houthi’s losses on the battlefield in Yemen as a result “of the continuing military operations deep inside Saada governorate.”

"All attempts by the Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militia to launch drones are doomed to fail and the coalition takes all operational procedures and best practices of engagement rules to deal with these drones to protect civilians," Al-Maliki said.