Vision 2030 guiding the transformation of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016 publicized plans to transform his country’s economy through Vision 2030, along with the actions to be taken by national entities including the government sector, the private sector and non-government organizations to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Vision will help mitigate the Kingdom’s dependence on oil and transform the nation’s economy by developing public services, increasing tourism and, most notably, reforming social attitudes toward women.
Vision 2030 is now taking shape and steadily bringing the Arab nation into the 21st century. Saudi women are now allowed to drive and fill jobs previously reserved for men. They are proving their capabilities on many fronts, including significant successes while holding high-ranking positions. They are running for, and winning, elections in local chambers of commerce and municipalities. They currently hold ministerial posts, as well as chairmanships and board seats at universities, state institutions, banks and multi-national corporations.
Vision 2030 has several goals, one of the principal ones being the reduction of the country’s dependency on oil revenues and the diversification of the economy.
Dr. Khaled Manzlawiy
As the Vision focuses on enabling Saudi women’s contributions in matters of social development, as well as supporting women in assuming higher governmental positions and managerial roles in the private sector, we look forward to witnessing Saudi Arabia’s continuing journey toward substantive equality for women and girls. Besides the government’s support of educational opportunities and scholarships to Saudi women, it also has a positive impact on enhancing women’s status and roles in various fields. The Vision is increasing employment opportunities for women in multiple fields, directly raising women’s participation in the labor market, as statistics and figures in this year’s World Economic Outlook show.
Vision 2030 has several goals, one of the principal ones being the reduction of the country’s dependency on oil revenues and the diversification of the economy. Massive infrastructure projects are playing a critical role in achieving these goals. The Red Sea project plans to transform hundreds of kilometers of the Kingdom’s coastline into a global tourism destination. The project is developing areas with ideal water temperatures, globally renowned scuba diving sites, a diverse marine ecosystem, and protected coral reefs. On another front, the Fadhili gas plant will supply energy through clean-burning natural gas, helping to lower the country’s reliance on oil as a means of generating power. The “entertainment city” near the nation’s capital, Riyadh, will spread over 334 square kilometers, bringing entertainment and cultural venues the likes of which the country has never seen. Major attractions will include a safari and a theme park by the renowned American giant Six Flags.
The Quality of Life Program 2020 — a part of the Vision 2030 Realization Program — will include an island for the arts and culture in Jeddah, 42 libraries, 45 cinemas, 16 theaters, and 491 lots earmarked for sporting activities. The program will spur inward investment and create thousands of jobs.
Lastly, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) will host an unprecedented number of events, with more than 5,000 live shows, festivals and concerts planned in 56 cities across the region. This year holds the most diverse line-up of live entertainment ever seen in Saudi Arabia, ranging from family musicals and shows to stand-up comedy and live performances from some of the biggest names in global entertainment. The GEA is proud to be one of the drivers of transformation in the Kingdom, with a clarity of purpose to build a world-class entertainment industry that will put Saudi Arabia on the global tourism and entertainment map.
Vision 2030 has been closely associated with the emergence of Crown Prince Mohammed as the leading force in Saudi Arabia. The Vision’s reforms are wide-ranging and carry significant positive implications for the Saudi economy over the long-term, and have expedited the process of opening the Saudi market to international investors. Whatever the fortunes of this project are, or the dynamics associated with it, the necessity of reducing the economy’s dependence on oil and the state represents the most significant challenge Saudi policymakers currently face.
There are challenges, however, for each field and that is where the need to diversify the economy, improve the efficiency of government services, strengthen the participation of youth and women in the labor market and other priorities are at the forefront of the government’s reform efforts.
• Dr. Khaled Manzlawiy is Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations in New York.