Providing a voice for Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

The end of driving ban has been crowning achievement so far of Saudi Vision 2030. Women started their engines and hit the roads throughout the Kingdom on June 24, 2018.
Updated 23 September 2018

Providing a voice for Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

  • In just 3 years, the world has witnessed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 starting to bear fruit
  • "Today I get the chance to write about the transformation step by step, by covering events and stories about young Saudi entrepreneurs, artists and empowered women." — Lojien Ben Gassem

Arab News journalists reflect on the recent changes in the Kingdom and share their hopes for themselves and the country by the time Vision 2030 is realized 

 

Aisha Fareed

Reporting news in a rapidly changing country is, in itself, an honor. To be part of “The Voice of a Changing Region” is quite an achievement I have carefully shaped and built since 2014, when I joined Arab News as a fresh graduate.

Leading the team of Saudi reporters is a responsibility I never imagined I would assume at a young age, but, somehow, it gives me a better vision of how my career will look by the year 2030. Twelve years from now, I picture myself being a senior managing editor with even greater responsibilities. Although, I am blessed to work with such a dedicated team, I see our family growing and our foreign bureaus expanding.

Another dream I hope to realize by 2030 is to be among the elite, handpicked journalists who are asked to interview leaders and high-profile figures in the world. 

Before I reach my 40s (I will be 39 in 2030), I should also be able to say that, throughout my career, I managed to report the humanitarian stories that usually go unheard, from the least-fortunate places, such as war-torn countries.

 

Aseel Bashraheel

I’m lucky to be working at Arab News during the transformational era in Saudi Arabia, and I am very proud to be part the local team who has the ability to report these changes to the rest of the region and the world, helping others to rediscover Saudi Arabia and reshape their ideas and misconceptions.

By the year 2030, I am hoping that with the implementation of the Kingdom’s Vision we will be looking at an entirely different Saudi Arabia, and an entirely different universe. I would love to say that being a journalist had always been my dream, but it was not. 

However, nothing I worked on before felt this right. I would love to picture myself as a senior editor, walking in to this same office, greeting the same kind faces that smile at me every day, a little older and wiser, and newer faces too, as eager and hungry as I was on my first day to acquire the skills that will enable them to be journalists (in digitized forums that will suit the journalism of the future).

 

Abdulaziz Alaquil

My aspirations as a journalist by the year 2030 are not so much attributed to any specific goals, such as being recognized with any particular awards or accolades, but rather how this industry offers a platform for continued growth in my self-development. 

I believe I am constantly refining both my professional and social skills, which is greatly rewarding to me.

There are plenty of occupations that serve simply as a means to an end in the sense of generating an income. 

A unique aspect of the field of journalism though, is the added benefits in the sense of how well informed I am on world events, which in turn translates heavily to my social development. 

The element of spontaneity in this field is also ever present, which can lead to some very interesting travels. My aspirations are being met every day in this job. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

 

Lojien Ben Gassem

Before I became a journalist, I always wanted people to see Saudi Arabia through the eyes of the Saudi citizens. Unfortunately, today’s media politics play a huge role in shaping a country, through biased ideas and false assumptions. When Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed Saudi Vision 2030, “The National Transformation Program,” on April 25, 2016, people started to wonder what was happening to the country. Basically, Vision 2030 promises people a better future and better governance, which is raising hopes and expectations among Saudis. That vision led me to become a journalist in particular because people were becoming more curious about Saudi Arabia. Today I get the chance to write about the transformation step by step, by covering events and stories about young Saudi entrepreneurs, artists and empowered women.

Therefore, my aspirations as a journalist for the year 2030 are: to help to increase the demand for tourism in Saudi Arabia and create an attractive and welcoming environment for tourists who are interested to get to know the country; to educate Saudis on how to understand and accept other cultures and ethnicities; and to help create a culture that accepts constructive and purposeful criticism.

 

Deema Al-Khudair

I aspire to be an accomplished journalist who has made a positive impact in the world through her writing. I hope to have had a hand in making a difference by 2030. I wish to have tackled major issues going on in the world by then, and bring a sense of hope, relief and joy to all those I have interviewed and written about, and make a difference in all the forums I will have participated in by 2030. 

Being a journalist is a very fulfilling job as you have the chance to give a voice to people and make a difference in their lives. I wish to be recognized as a journalist who made a difference. 

I aspire to be a prime example of integrity in this field, make my country and Arab News proud of me, and to learn so much more about the world and how to make it a better place to live in day by day. 

 

Noor Nugali

My first article was published when I was 16 years old. I wanted to change the world and thought if not by actions than most definitely by words, always trusting in the idea that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Many years have passed, and I still believe this, with a broader understanding that not everything is black and white but different shades of all the colors under the glorious sun.

In the course of just 3 years, the world has witnessed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia start to bear the fruits of its labor through Vision 2030. It has given its people hope, inspiration and, most importantly, a higher purpose that can be achieved. 

The reforms we at Arab News have covered show how rapidly things are moving, in the right direction. I feel honored and blessed to not only witness them but to actually be a part of them.

Vision 2030 is a realization that change on a large scale is a team effort that takes millions of believers that share a vision of prosperity and hope. 

The inner child in me still believes I can change the world, but this time not alone. It might not be through pen and paper, but more accurately through a keyboard and a blank Word document.

 

Ruba Obaid

With the rapid growth of virtual data and the information available online, as well as the fast technological developments, newspapers will mostly disappear by 2030. Even in terms of language, we may invent another word in the near future to describe the new digital interactive news-delivery tool. 

News reports will be written by computers, or most of them, which means the concept of competition between competitors in the media industry will change. The more an agency depends on developed technology, the more successful it can be. 

In this regard, I predict more competition in producing creative, interactive, entertaining and high-value content that depends on investigative journalism and feature stories, more so than broadcast journalism, which might have less reliance on news reporters and correspondents, and more jobs for people with creative, critical and analytical skills in the media industry. Journalist will need to obtain knowledge in basic journalism, and more in technology, and creative content production.

On the basis of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030, I would expect the media industry in Saudi Arabia to be more diversified, and prosperous, since the Kingdom is investing a developed digital infrastructure, as well as in the entertainment and sports sectors, and culture and heritage.


Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

  • Agreement between agriculture ministry and Dubai's ICBA aimed at conserving natural resources
  • Kingdom's biosaline agriculture research and systems stands to benefit from ICBA's expertise

DUBAI: Agricultural development and environmental sustainability in Saudi Arabia will receive a boost in the coming years, thanks to a new agreement between the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai and the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The agreement aims to enable Saudi Arabia to achieve its goal of preservation and sustainable management of its natural resources by raising the quality of biosaline agriculture research and systems.

The ministry says that the agreement will make use of the ICBA’s expertise in capacity development besides agricultural and environmental research, especially in the fields of vegetation development, combating desertification and climate change adaptation.

“It also includes training programs for Saudi technicians and farmers,” the ministry said. “In addition, it will localize, implement and develop biosaline agriculture research and production systems for both crops and forestation, which contributes to environmental and agricultural integration.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, the ICBA’s director general, told Arab News: “The agreement had been in the making for about two years. That was when we were approached by the Saudi government.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, ICBA Director General, at the center's Quinoa fields in Dubai. (Supplied photo)

She said: “We put forward a proposal to demonstrate how the ICBA can help the Saudi government to implement its Green Kingdom Initiative, through which the ministry is trying to restore green coverage in the country and revive old conservation practices.”

Geographical features and climatic conditions very greatly from one part of the country to the other.

In the past, experimentation with such crops as potatoes, wheat and alfalfa proved detrimental to the Kingdom’s environment and natural resources due to faster rates of groundwater withdrawal.

“The ministry wanted to put a halt to over-abstraction of water, so they went through different policies,” Elouafi said.

“They made sure, for example, that farmers stopped producing wheat because about 2,400 liters of water is consumed to produce 1 kg of wheat. It was a huge amount,” she added.

“The new strategy is to find more appropriate crops for the farming community, which is quite large in the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia has been trying to grow its own food on a large scale since the 1980s. 

The objective of the Green Kingdom Initiative is to reduce the agricultural sector’s water demand by finding alternatives to thirsty crops.

The agreement will require the ICBA, over the next five years, to build for Saudi Arabia a new biosaline agriculture sector. 

As part of this shift, cultivation of a number of crops, notably quinoa, pearl millet and sorghum, will be piloted in high-salinity regions and then scaled up.

“The crops did very well in the UAE,” Elouafi said. “We’re looking at Sabkha regions, which have very high salinity and wetlands, and are on the ministry’s environmental agenda.”

Another objective is “smart” agriculture, which will involve raising water productivity, controlling irrigation water consumption and changing farming behavior.

Elouafi said that getting farmers in the Kingdom to stop cultivating wheat took some time as they had become accustomed to heavy government subsidies. In 2015, wheat production was phased out, followed by potatoes a year later and then alfalfa. 

“Farmers were provided everything to the point where they got used to a very good income and a very easy system,” she said.

“Now farmers are being asked to start producing something else, but the income won’t be the same, so it’s very important at this stage that the ministry has a plan and it’s fully understood.”

The agreement envisages preparation of proposals for ministry projects that involve plant production, drought monitoring, development of promising local crop and forestation varieties, and conservation of plant genetic resources.

“We’re also discussing capacity building because the ministry is big and has many entities. Because Saudi Arabia is a large country and has the capacity to meet some of its food requirements internally, what’s required is a better understanding of the country’s natural capabilities in terms of production of the crops it needs, like certain cereals,” Elouafi said.

“The way the authorities are going about it right now is more organized and more holistic. They’re trying to plan it properly.”

Elouafi said that having a better understanding of Saudi Arabia’s water constraints and managing the precious resource is essential.

 

Although almost the entire country is arid, there is rainfall in the north and along the mountain range to the west, especially in the far southwest, which receives monsoon rains in summer.

 

Sporadic rain may also occur elsewhere. Sometimes it is very heavy, causing serious flooding, including in Riyadh.

“They (the government) are very interested in drought management systems. The Kingdom has a long history of agriculture,” Elouafi said.

“It has large quantities of water in terms of rainfall, and certain regions have mountainous conditions, which are conducive to agriculture.”

Clearly, preservation of water resources is a priority for the Saudi government. But no less urgent is the task of conversion of green waste to improve soil quality, increase soil productivity and water retention, and reduce demand for irrigation.

The Kingdom is one of at least three Gulf Cooperation Council countries that are taking steps to develop a regulatory framework for the recycling of waste into compost.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are respectively aiming to recycle 85 percent, 75 percent and 60 percent of their municipal solid waste over the next decade, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled “Global Food Trends to 2030.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank in the bottom quartile of the 34 countries covered by the EIU’s Food Sustainability Index, with low scores for nutrition and food loss and waste. 

The answer, according to many farmers, policymakers and food-industry experts, is a shift toward more sustainable management of each country’s natural resources.