quotes Saudi Arabia’s commendable progress on governance indicators

17 August 2023
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Updated 17 August 2023

Saudi Arabia’s commendable progress on governance indicators

  • By implementing bold reforms, the Kingdom has prioritized the well-being and aspirations of its citizens

Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Middle East, has embarked on a remarkable journey of transformation that has garnered international attention. Over the past decade, the Kingdom has taken significant steps toward enhancing its governance indicators, as measured by the rule of law, voice and accountability, transparency and accountability, and government effectiveness. This article aims to explore the remarkable advancements Saudi Arabia has made in these areas, highlighting its commitment to fostering positive change and playing an influential role on the global stage.

It is clear that Saudi Arabia has been actively working toward improving its governance systems and promoting transparency and citizen engagement.

The efforts made to strengthen the rule of law, enhance the judicial system and promote transparency and accountability are commendable. These initiatives not only contribute to a fair and predictable environment for citizens and businesses but also foster greater investor confidence and economic stability.

Additionally, the emphasis on citizen participation and inclusivity is a positive step toward ensuring that the government represents the needs and aspirations of the Saudi population. The establishment of platforms for public discourse and decision-making processes, such as the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue, further encourages civic engagement and contributes to a more inclusive society.

The focus on e-governance and digital transformation is also noteworthy. By leveraging digital platforms and online portals, the government is streamlining administrative processes and improving service delivery in various sectors. This not only enhances efficiency but also helps reduce bureaucratic hurdles.

The rule of law forms the bedrock of any well-functioning society, guaranteeing fairness, justice and security for all its citizens. Saudi Arabia has made extensive strides in strengthening its legal framework to ensure the rule of law prevails. Initiatives such as the National Transformation Program have been pivotal in promoting legal reforms that safeguard human rights and support social progress.

The establishment of an independent judicial system in Saudi Arabia has further consolidated the rule of law. The Supreme Judicial Council and the Specialized Criminal Court have been instrumental in ensuring fair trials and speedy justice, greatly enhancing the confidence of citizens and investors alike.

Saudi Arabia has a World Economics Rule of Law Index rating of 58.1, ranking it 56th out of 150 countries in the global listings.

Voice and accountability are critical components of modern governance, allowing citizens to articulate their concerns, contribute to decision-making processes and hold the government accountable. Recognizing the significance of citizen engagement, Saudi Arabia has initiated numerous reforms to empower its people.

The introduction of the National Transformation Program has fostered a culture of transparency and inclusivity, enabling citizens to participate in shaping policies and programs. In addition, the establishment of the National Center for Performance Measurement (Adaa) has played a pivotal role in enhancing accountability by monitoring the progress of government initiatives.

Saudi Arabia has a medium World Bank Worldwide Governance Index ranking in the 48th percentile, with low scores for voice and accountability and political stability and absence of violence constraining the average. Between 1996 and 2021, the average value for Saudi Arabia was -1.7 points, with a minimum of -1.91 points in 2011 and a maximum of -1.32 points in 2004. The latest value from 2021 was -1.59 points. For comparison, the world average in 2021 based on 193 countries was -0.04 points.

Transparency and accountability are essential facets of effective governance. To this end, Saudi Arabia has implemented a wide range of initiatives aimed at ensuring the free flow of information and oversight mechanisms.

One notable development is the ELM platform, an integrated digital system that promotes transparency by providing easy access to government data. This initiative has transformed the way information is shared, ensuring transparency and building trust between the government and its citizens. Moreover, the establishment of the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) has been instrumental in combating corruption and promoting good governance practices.

In Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for the year 2022, the Kingdom ranked 54th out of 180 countries, with a transparency score of 51 out of 100.

Government effectiveness is a crucial factor in a nation’s progress and development. Saudi Arabia has invested considerable efforts in fostering effective governance by streamlining administrative processes, enhancing public services and optimizing resource allocation.

The E-Government Program (Yesser) is a prime example of the Kingdom’s commitment to improving government effectiveness. By digitizing various public services, including health, education and business registration, Saudi Arabia has revolutionized its bureaucratic framework, making it more transparent, efficient and user-friendly.

Investments in human capital and capacity-building have further contributed to improving government effectiveness. Initiatives like the National Academy for Public Administration have played a significant role in training and developing competent civil servants, empowering them to deliver exceptional services to citizens and promote innovative policymaking.

Saudi Arabia’s rank on Global Economy’s Government Effectiveness Index (where a value of -2.5 is weak and 2.5 is strong) in 2021 was 0.5 points, putting it in 55th place. For comparison, the world average based on 192 countries was -0.02 points.

Overall, Saudi Arabia’s commitment to improving its governance indicators reflects its dedication to fostering a fair and inclusive society and achieving sustainable development. Continued efforts in these areas will undoubtedly contribute to the country’s progress on both the international stage and in the well-being of its citizens.

Saudi Arabia’s commendable progress in the areas of the rule of law, voice and accountability, transparency and accountability, and government effectiveness is testament to its unwavering commitment to transformation. By implementing bold reforms, the Kingdom has prioritized the well-being and aspirations of its citizens, while positioning itself as a strong and responsible global player.

As Saudi Arabia stands confidently on the international stage, its journey of transformation resonates in the international index, revealing its noteworthy advancements. The country has become a model for other nations aspiring to achieve similar milestones, showcasing the power of determination, strong leadership and strategic vision in driving progress.

While notable achievements have been made, Saudi Arabia acknowledges that the journey toward excellence is an ongoing process. The Kingdom remains steadfast in its commitment to further enhance its governance indicators, ensuring continuous improvements that will shape a brighter future for its citizens and will inspire others to embark on their own transformative paths.

• Dr. Turki Faisal Al-Rasheed is an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Biosystems Engineering. He is the co-author of “Public Governance and Strategic Management Capabilities: Public Governance in the Gulf States” and is currently working on “Saudi Arabia’s Transformation: Uncertainty and Sustainability.”