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
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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  • The outdated views about the Kingdom do no justice to the modern Saudi Arabia of 2018 — nor to where it’s heading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.


King Salman receives Saudi education officials

King Salman receives officials of theMinistry of Education and Saudi universities at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
Updated 11 December 2018
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King Salman receives Saudi education officials

  • The king stressed the role of education in the development of a country

RIYADH: Top officials of the Ministry of Education and Kingdom’s universities on Monday called on King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh. 

The king stressed the role of education in the development of a country. Saudi Arabia ranks as the largest market for education services in the region, and it also accounts for a growing number of students enrolled in the kindergarten to grade 12 education system in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. 

Strong government support over the past few years has led to the continuous expansion of the education sector by inviting private players to enter the space.

According to a study conducted by Research and Markets, the higher education industry of the Kingdom inclined at a single digit compound annual growth rate during the period 2012-2017. 

The establishment of new universities due to increased investments in the education sector was the key contributor to the augmented revenues generated by the market players.