Saudi Arabia and the G20
The post-Cold War era is one of liberal and multilateral institutes. With rising powers such as China and a resurgent Russia, the globe can be said to be in a transition phase — moving toward a multipolar world from a unipolar world.
In the 21st century of globalization, regional organizations, multilateral institutes and multinational corporations (MNCs) are playing a pivotal role in global politics and the economy. States are shifting their traditional foreign policies toward global and regional interdependence by becoming a member of global organizations. The G20 (Group of Twenty) is a multilateral group of countries created for global economic cooperation.
However the question remains, will such institutions reflect the sole interest of the member states? How can such institutions contribute to worldwide prosperity and wellbeing in a disordered world?
Along with many other states, Saudi Arabia is an essential member of the G20.
Hosting a platform such as the G20 is of immense importance to Saudi Arabia. The G20 summit is also vital due to the current global economic crisis and the protectionist policies of states. Saudi Arabia is fortunate to chair the G20 summit while initiating practical work on Vision 2030. However, Saudi Arabia must face and tackle many challenges to complete Vision 2030, and the G20 can be the platform for the Kingdom to resolve such issues.
Significance of hosting G20 summit for Saudi Arabia:
Setting the stage for the 2020 G20 summit in Riyadh will be the most crucial occasion for Saudi Arabia in recent years. The G20 is a forum of 19 countries and the EU for international economic cooperation. Saudi Arabia is an essential stakeholder among G20 nations. G20 nations account for 90 percent of the world’s GDP, 80 percent of global trade and 66 percent of the world’s population. This makes the G20 countries the most significant markets and trading partners for Saudi Arabia. Considering its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia will try to explore new ways of socio-economic cooperation with G20 nations while hosting the summit in Riyadh.
Along with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is also making serious efforts to preserve the environment and create sustainability. Hosting this summit is not only significant for its economic aspects but also crucial for the political and diplomatic policies of Saudi Arabia. During his speech at the Osaka summit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman committed to finding new ways of cooperation with low-income states in food security, infrastructure development, energy infrastructure, water issues and human capacity building. That will be the central agenda of Saudi Arabia at the G20 summit in Riyadh.
Vision 2030 is an empowerment tool for Saudi contribution to the G20 agenda:
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 highlights the Kingdom’s efforts to modernize and diversify its economy, society and culture. Along with many industrial and entertainment projects, world-class tourism will play a central part in Vision 2030.
G20 nations will provide significant audiences for tourist attractions under Vision 2030. For example, after its completion the Qiddiya city will be a landmark location designed to address the needs of future generations.
During the last G20 summit in Japan, the ministerial meeting for energy and environment was held in Karuizawa. The city was developed on the principle of “local production for local consumption” and promotes and subsidizes the use of electric vehicles and solar systems. The Japanese experience in developing the city will be a useful model for the sustainable development of Vision 2030, especially Qiddiya and NEOM. With investment of $500 billion, NEOM industrial zone will be the largest project of the century after China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
NEOM city provides a massive market for G20 economies to attract investment. NEOM will offer investment opportunities for G20 countries in sectors including energy, water, mobility, bio-tech, food, manufacturing, media, entertainment, fashion, digital technology, tourism, sports, construction, services and health.
Vision 2030 cannot be successful without cooperation in the digital economy, digital technology and artificial intelligence. Tsukuba, which hosted a ministerial meeting on trade and digital economy at the G20 Japanese summit, is a model digital city, leading in the domains of research, academia and digital technology. Such a digital partnership with Japan will be necessary for KSA’s development of digital zones under Vision 2030.
Troika members of G20 (Saudi Arabia, Japan, Italy) have already started collaboration in three major partnerships — diversifying the industrial and energy sector, innovation in food security and health, and revitalizing soft values.
Japan’s “Society 5.0” is a similar initiative to Vision 2030, aimed at setting the stage for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Collaboration and partnership with Japan in energy resilience and the digital economy will play a vital role in the execution of Vision 2030.
Dr. Yahya Al-Zahrani is an expert on international affairs and security. He has an extensive academic and professional background, combining global experience in strategy and international relations.