Finance Ministry organizes tour of Saudi economic landmarks
Over the past two years, the Saudi Finance Ministry has implemented rigorous financial reforms aimed at improving financial transparency. For example, from 2017, it started classifying its accounts for reporting purposes in accordance with the Government Finance Statistics Manual, which is published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In 2018, the ministry started issuing quarterly and biannual financial budget reports, and for the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history, it has issued a preliminary draft statement for the 2019 budget. And as part of its efforts to increase transparency and strengthen communication between Saudi and foreign professionals from various fields and backgrounds, the ministry for the first time organized a tour of the Kingdom’s major cities.
The tour, in which I had the privilege to participate, included visiting landmarks and urban accomplishments, an appraisal of the national economy and meeting with top Saudi officials. It started from Jeddah, included the Eastern Province and ended in Riyadh.
The Jeddah tour began with a visit to King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), one of Saudi Arabia’s most modern universities. Participants then visited King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), which has a modern harbor on the Red Sea capable of receiving the world’s largest ships. The Jeddah tour also included the Haramain high-speed railway.
In the Eastern Province, tour participants visited Saudi Aramco, the King Abdul Aziz International Cultural Center and the Shaybah oilfield, whose production has reached 500,000 barrels per day with reserves of 16 billion barrels.
In Riyadh, the tour included a visit to King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), the Riyadh Metro (a rapid transit system under construction at a cost of $22.5 billion), and the Solar Village at Al-Oyaiyna, which generates about 350 kilowatts of electricity from solar energy.
At the end of the tour, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan met with participants, and went over the highlights of the 2019 budget and major financial achievements.
Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.