Overwhelming response to deputy crown prince’s visit

Updated 24 June 2016

Overwhelming response to deputy crown prince’s visit

The overwhelming response Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received in the US speaks volumes for the success of his vision that aims to transform Saudi Arabia by 2030.
A key part of Vision 2030 is to open the Kingdom even further to international companies and investors. This fulfills its duty as an active member of the World trade Organization.
Deputy crown prince went to the US to lay out the program in person. The Americans have hailed the impact of his visit as extremely positive. Vision 2030 contains a startling series of plans. The deputy crown prince and his high-powered delegation enhanced them by their presence.
His willingness to explain was matched by the eagerness of his US hosts to listen. There are clearly massive opportunities for American business. Prince Mohammed’s visit to San Francisco’s Silicon Valley was one of the highlights of his trip. He was briefed not just on the very latest technologies but on the exciting trajectory of future developments.
Microsoft and Cisco were just two of the corporate giants that were quick to partner in the transformational Vision 2030. The Kingdom already boasts some of the world’s most advanced IT infrastructure. It is for instance driving hard toward e-government. But IT is a platform that does not stand still. A core ambition of the Vision 2030 is to stay at the cutting edge of new technology.
Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih found attentive audiences when he outlined the state-of-the-art infrastructure that will be built into the new “Energy City.” The US has been a pioneer of renewable power resources. The Kingdom has committed itself to taking the very best of the new technology and bringing it together in a single remarkable project. “Energy City” will be a global template for what can be achieved when the political will is matched with the right funding and the best expertise.
International companies in energy-related industries have substantial prospects here. Saudi Aramco has committed to invest in renewable energy production. It is also moving to unconventional recovery. Capitalizing on recent discoveries, Aramco will be doubling gas production from conventional and shale gas fields. This will be another step in its advance to become a top-tier, globally-integrated energy and chemicals company.
Vision 2030’s liberal view of foreign investment conforms with WTO rules. Outside companies can now have 100 percent ownership of retail and wholesale businesses. The US firm, Dow Chemical, became the very first foreign business to be granted a trading license. This has enhanced its ability to deliver high-value, innovative products. It will clearly boost the Kingdom’s drive toward sustainable development, energy-efficiency, alternative power generation, water production and oil and gas recovery.
It is clear that Prince Mohammed’s busy visit to the United States will increase the trading links between the two countries. In the last decade, these have grown exponentially from $26 billion to $74 billion. America is the top destination for Saudi investment.
SABIC and Aramco account for the greatest proportion. Aramco is committed to growing its refinery capacity in Texas and Port Arthur to 600,000 barrels per day. It has boosted its research and development in Michigan and Massachusetts and logistics services in New York. SABIC has meanwhile recently paid $11.7 billion for General Electric's plastics division. Even before the deputy crown prince and his party had left America, US and Saudi executives and officials were getting down to the details of deals. Flesh is being put onto the agreements that have been made. The reality of these deals will contribute substantially to the success of Vision 2030 and its foundation, the National Transformation Program 2020.
Anyone who ever had any doubts about the extraordinary ambitions in the Vision 2030 should consider the achievements of the US visit of the deputy crown prince and his high-powered Saudi party. The secret of corporate America is that it is tough and hard-nosed. It focuses ferociously on new opportunities. It does not do fantasy. But time and again, it has demonstrated its genius by turning visions into reality.
The success of this Saudi mission can be measured by the extremely warm welcome it received. Vision 2030 received an enthusiastic response for a very good reason. It represents the go-ahead, can-do ethic that has always driven American business. US entrepreneurs understand the transformational journey upon which the Kingdom is embarking. They have been there themselves. They know the challenges. As a result of Prince Mohammed’s presentations, they have been inspired to partner Saudi Arabia on its journey.

EDITORIAL: Jeddah floods a reminder of why we need the anti-corruption drive

Saudi drivers take a flooded street in Jeddah on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2017

EDITORIAL: Jeddah floods a reminder of why we need the anti-corruption drive

It has happened again. The roads, streets and many underpasses in Jeddah were flooded with rainwater on Tuesday. Many areas were turned into lakes because of the heavy, though forecast, downpour. In some areas, water was knee-deep while in others it was chest-deep. People were stuck in their vehicles and many were seen pushing their vehicles to the side of the roads with great difficulty. In low-lying areas, citizens struggled to remove their belongings from flooded houses.

For the residents of Jeddah, rain has, more often than not, brought trouble and devastation. Whenever the skies open up, thoughts go back to that “Black Wednesday” of November 25, 2009, when more than 100 people lost their lives and property worth billions of riyals was destroyed. An investigation was opened into the disaster and some of the guilty were taken to court and tried; some of the small fry were even jailed. As has been the case in the past, the mighty arm of the law could barely touch those at the top who enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

And so it was business as usual until the rain began to wreak havoc again, reminding us that the laws of nature take their course and that hiding your head in the sand does not chase the clouds away.

Having said that, it must be admitted that, yes, lessons were learned. A disaster management team was set up. The weather forecast department became active in issuing alerts. In fact, Tuesday could have been far worse had it not been for the timely alert from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and a prompt decision by the Ministry of Education to suspend classes, schools and universities in and around Jeddah. That helped in keeping people and vehicles off the streets. At noon on Tuesday, it looked as if the city were under some kind of curfew.

The questions that are on everyone's minds right now are: Why is it that rain renders the city helpless and immobile at this time every year? Why have efforts to create effective rainwater drainage systems not borne fruit despite pumping billions of riyals into new projects such as dams and canals? Why is it that the authorities are found wanting whenever heavy rain occurs? More importantly, what is the solution?

Here is the answer. These floods are a stark reminder of why the current drive against corruption is so essential. It is required in order to instill the fear of law into high-ranking officials and heads of construction companies and civic bodies who have failed in their responsibilities. Those who have cut corners and have pocketed public money, those who have not delivered on the projects and who have provided substandard services must pay for their sins of omission.

This is exactly what is happening. No one is above the law. The guilty, whoever they are, however high up they are, will have to pay — and they are. In this new era of transparency and accountability — initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — word has gone down from top to bottom that no one is immune. If you are guilty you will be punished. Those responsible for the havoc of the floods on Tuesday will have no rest either.