Naya Pakistan and Saudi Vision 2030 work in perfect harmony

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a grand welcome when he visited Pakistan in February this year. (SPA)
Updated 16 August 2019

Naya Pakistan and Saudi Vision 2030 work in perfect harmony

  • Efforts underway to broaden areas of mutual cooperation under umbrella of joint ministerial commission

The visit to Pakistan by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in February this year, during which he described himself as “the ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia,” not only won the hearts of Pakistanis but also reflected his desire to take the relationship between the nations to a new level.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for transforming Pakistan, inspired by the state of Madinah, matches the ambition of Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to open up Saudi society to reflect modern realities, while at the same time maintaining its Islamic ideology.

 The desire to add a new dimension to the relationship between the Kingdom and Pakistan is based on this compatibility of the two leaders’ visions for transformational change, so that governance can cope with emerging challenges.

FASTFACT

 

Pakistani diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia are following business plans that emphasize the ways and means to improve bilateral trade and investment.

For a nation to progress, it must prepare a coherent road map for action, and also adopt strategies to implement the policies that will lead to its objectives. Hence Pakistan has plotted a fast, progressive route to achieve the government’s vision for “Naya Pakistan” (new Pakistan), which is designed to represent an aspirational approach. 

It serves as a motivational guide for the development of an effective strategy, as well as a road map for the realization of the country’s national goals and aspirations.

Similarly, the Saudi Government is following its “Vision 2030” plan, which was launched under the visionary leadership of King Salman and the crown prince. It aims to transform the Saudi economy and diversify sources of income to reduce the current dependence on oil.

Vision 2030 is a plan to reform the entire economic structure of Saudi Arabia by decreasing public spending and placing a greater emphasis on the private sector. 

HIGHLIGHTS

The Pakistani Consulate is working to ensure Saudi buyers have easy access to information about Pakistani products and services.

These include traditional exports such as food, textiles, leather, sporting goods and surgical instruments, along with more recent offerings such as pharmaceuticals, furniture, construction materials and the emerging services sector.

Credible exporters coordinate with the consulate to offer exports and quality products at competitive prices.

It also envisages links with international markets, offering win-win situations for prospective partners, especially in countries such as Pakistan that have a history of a strategic relationship with the Kingdom.

In line with the above strategy, Pakistani diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia are following business plans that emphasize the ways and means to improve bilateral trade and investment. 

These plans seek opportunities for joint ventures in the manufacturing and services sectors and strive for the development of human resources, which will not only contribute to the host country’s economy but also pay dividends for Pakistan. 

They also focus on activities that not only highlight Pakistan’s potential for trade and investment, together with its friendly industrial and investment regime, but also enhance the understanding of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the economic opportunities it offers.

 

Development partner

As a development partner of Saudi Arabia, the Pakistani Consulate is working to ensure Saudi buyers have easy access to information about Pakistani products and services. 

These include traditional exports such as food, textiles, leather, sporting goods and surgical instruments, along with more recent offerings such as pharmaceuticals, furniture, construction materials and the emerging services sector.

Credible exporters coordinate with us to offer exports and quality products at competitive prices. This not only gives value for money but also helps to develop long-term relationships.

To help achieve the goal of industrialization under Vision 2030, our trade mission is also developing a business model to help develop the Saudi manufacturing sector by supplementing Saudi capital investment with technology and skilled manpower from Pakistani counterparts. 

These joint venture partners will not only contribute to the domestic Saudi market but also export to others in the region. It is a win-win situation: Increased industrialization in the Kingdom, and economic benefits for Pakistan in the form of profits and the export of skilled human resources, with a resultant increase in remittances.

The Saudization aspect of Vision 2030 is a structural adjustment to the Kingdom’s services sector. 

In the short term, this will result in a decline in remittances to a number of countries, including Pakistan, where money sent from Saudi Arabia makes up the lion’s share of the transfers from overseas workers. 

In the long term, however, it will only change the dynamics of the human resources requirements, offering Pakistan an opportunity to upscale its manpower exports to include more skilled and managerial levels, inevitably boosting remittances as a result.

We are working with the government of Pakistan to develop specialized vocational training institutes to teach the technical skills that will be required after Vision 2030. 

By the time the structural adjustments are completed in the Kingdom, Pakistani workers will be ready to fill positions at the required job levels and maintain, if not increase, remittance levels.

Efforts are also underway to broaden the areas of mutual cooperation under the umbrella of a joint ministerial commission examining the fields of educational and scientific research, avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of tax evasion, development of trade in services, manpower training by the National Training Bureau of Pakistan, a bilateral investment protection treaty, and cooperation on tourism and cultural promotion. 

 

Muhammad Shahzad is commercial counselor at the Pakistani Consulate in Jeddah.


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.