Vision 2030: A push in the right direction
The last few years have been tough on the global economy, mainly due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. But despite all the difficulties, Saudi Arabia has weathered the storm and managed to keep the national economy afloat.
The achievement has further strengthened faith in the Kingdom’s ability to realize its Vision 2030 goals. Sept. 23 marked the country’s 91st National Day, an occasion that has been celebrated by Saudis for decades. However, since the 2016 launch of the Vision 2030 reform plan, the day has also become an annual opportunity to review the program’s progress and bolster the nation’s resolve to continue marching along the road to success.
The 89th National Day fell just 10 days after the terror attacks on the Kingdom’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, both in the Eastern Province. Astonishingly, Saudi Arabia was able to restore oil production in record time, thwarting the attempt to paralyze the largest oil processing facility in the world, upset the global supply and demand balance, and damage the world economy.
The missile and drone strikes, and how the Kingdom recovered, not only proved the country’s ability to overcome crises but also increased its credibility in maintaining the stability of global oil markets.
Last year’s National Day was observed at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been described as the worst health and economic crisis the world has faced in modern history.
The virus outbreak shook the global oil market, but Saudi Arabia led the world in containing the demand shock and helping to restore tranquility to global energy markets in coordination with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies.
While the world faced a bleak economic outlook, the Kingdom proved to be one of the best-prepared nations to deal with the health crisis, thanks to its strategy planning.
The statistics offer confirmation that Saudi Arabia’s strategy to diversify sources of income through Vision 2030 is moving in the right direction.
Vision 2030 programs and initiatives continue to fundamentally contribute toward strengthening governance and transparency, developing new policies, preventing corruption, measuring performance, and restructuring some government agencies, and there is little doubt that locally they have been a key factor in helping Saudi Arabia to become one of the leading nations in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s Saudi National Day celebrations were observed at a time of extraordinary development in every sector and its plan to reduce reliance on oil revenues is also bearing fruit.
When Vision 2030 was launched five years ago, the average price of Brent crude was $44 per barrel. In 2017, the figure was $54 per barrel, $71 in 2018, $64 in 2019, $42 in 2020, and has averaged nearly $67 this year. Comprehensive economic reforms have resulted in non-oil revenues reaching SR369 billion ($98 billion) in 2020, compared to SR166 billion in 2015, an increase of 222 percent.
The statistics offer confirmation that Saudi Arabia’s strategy to diversify sources of income through Vision 2030 is moving in the right direction, as before the implementation of the reform program oil constituted around 90 percent of national revenues.
• Faisal Faeq is an energy adviser and columnist. He formerly worked with Saudi Aramco and OPEC Secretariat. Twitter: @FaisalFaeq