Saudi Arabia held its 92nd National Day on Friday, and there is much to celebrate: The massive achievements made since the Kingdom’s unification reaffirm the ability of the leadership to deal with change and adapt and prosper.
While Western countries are experiencing huge geopolitical and economic crises, Saudi Arabia is making continuous leaps at the social, economic and development levels. Its major achievements have been recognized by the International Monetary Fund, which this year twice upgraded its expectations for the economy.
The Saudi budget recorded a surplus of $20.8 billion during the second quarter of this year. During that period, the state’s total revenues amounted to more than $98.7 billion, up 49 percent year-on-year, while expenditures reached $78 billion, a 16 percent increase over the same period.
This would not have been possible without the blessed Saudi Vision 2030, the leadership, and the structural reforms the Kingdom has been undertaking since 2016 through its 11 Vision Realization Programs.
The Public Investment Fund has acquired the English football club Newcastle United and invested in the US video games company Electronic Arts, as well as Swift Bank, Uber and electric car producer Lucid Motors, among other companies.
The Fiscal Sustainability Program rationalized spending and saved at least $133 billion in 2021, and then reallocated that money to improve services for citizens and residents.
The Financial Sector Development Program has meanwhile helped raise Saudi gross domestic product. Net profits of Saudi banks have increased by 34 percent on an annual basis.
While Western countries are experiencing huge geopolitical and economic crises, Saudi Arabia is making continuous leaps at the social, economic and development levels.
Other VRPs include Privatization, Housing, Quality of Life, the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program, the Pilgrim Experience Program, the Human Capacity Development Program, and the Health Sector Transformation Program.
The health program has contributed to the increase in the number of public hospitals in Saudi Arabia from 324 in 2001 to just under 500 this year. One should also note the development of the Saudi Red Crescent, which now has around 7,000 health practitioners, 1,400 ambulances, and more than 500 emergency stations.
The Kingdom’s adversaries must adapt themselves to coexisting with its successes, especially if they know that the non-oil revenues in this oil-rich country may reach $104 billion this year.
They should also know that the contribution of its soft power or its sports sector to GDP has grown by 170 percent, or $2 billion, in two years. Saudi Arabia has established 17 investment companies for sports clubs and federations, and its sovereign fund will move from sixth place to first place globally in 2030, with assets exceeding $2 trillion.
According to a report published by The Economist less than a month ago, the Saudi economy was the fastest growing among major countries and is currently outperforming those of China, India, Germany and the US, with a growth rate of up to 7.5 percent, the Kingdom’s highest since 2011.
The Economist also said Saudi Arabia has the lowest inflation among the G20 countries, equal to China and Japan at 2.5 percent, and its current account surplus will rise to more than $163 billion in 2022 compared to nearly $44 billion in 2021.
Since establishing National Day as an official holiday 17 years ago, and giving it the value and importance it deserves, celebrations now take place in all regions of the Kingdom. People in Riyadh witnessed an extraordinary celebration on the 92nd National Day, which was described as the largest ever.
It remains appropriate to emphasize the need to adhere to public morals and deal with violators with sufficient seriousness. It is preferable that their names and photographs be defamed without courtesy, so that such irresponsible actions do not distort the aesthetic of celebrating National Day.
In the 1920s, King Abdulaziz told the intellectual and Arab nationalist Amin Al-Rihani that he, his sons and his grandsons wanted to do more than their predecessors. And here we are, a century later.
• Dr. Bader bin Saud is a weekly columnist for Al-Riyadh and Okaz, a media and knowledge management researcher, and the former deputy commander of the Special Forces for Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia.