How World Expo in Riyadh could be the perfect capstone for Saudi Vision 2030 achievements

Saudi Arabia is bidding to host World Expo 2030 in Riyadh to highlight its vast potential to the world. (@Riyadh_Expo2030)
Saudi Arabia is bidding to host World Expo 2030 in Riyadh to highlight its vast potential to the world. (@Riyadh_Expo2030)
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Updated 23 September 2023
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How World Expo in Riyadh could be the perfect capstone for Saudi Vision 2030 achievements

Saudi Arabia is bidding to host World Expo 2030 in Riyadh to highlight its vast potential to the world. (@Riyadh_Expo2030)
  • Saudi capital is competing with Busan, in South Korea, and Rome to host the prestigious event
  • Expo in Riyadh would be an opportunity to show the changes accomplished in less than a decade

JEDDAH/RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is bidding to host World Expo 2030 in Riyadh to highlight both its vast potential to the world and the tangible progress it has accomplished with its wide-ranging Vision 2030 economic and social reforms. 

“During the eight years since the announcement of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom has witnessed changes and developments that surpass what has been accomplished in the past 80 years of its history, and Riyadh is a part of this success story,” Princess Reema bint Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US, said recently.

She was speaking in Paris in June during the 172nd General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions, or BIE, the intergovernmental organization that selects host nations for World Expo.

If the BIE chooses Riyadh to host the event in 2030, the Saudi capital will feature pavilions from 246 countries and welcome about 40 million visitors, who will see for themselves the realization of Vision 2030. 

Riyadh is competing with Busan, in South Korea, and Rome to host this prestigious event. 

“Our vision is a strong, thriving, and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunity for all,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in the Vision 2030 leadership message. 

He added: “Our vision is a tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method. We will welcome qualified individuals from all over the world. and will respect those who have come to join our journey and our success.”

Vision 2030 seeks to utilize every valuable asset Saudi Arabia has in order to diversify its economy and invest in its people by creating a more sustainable and equitable future, new employment opportunities, and harnessing the potential of young Saudis. 

These goals influence every aspect of the Kingdom’s development, from environmental sustainability to economic diversification. 

In addition, Vision 2030 also includes dozens of megaprojects and giga-projects spread across the Kingdom, as well as hundreds of initiatives, programs and reforms. These aim to drive the growth of domestic industries and attract investment. 

The reform program’s rapid progress demonstrates Riyadh’s commitment to development, achieving prosperity, and ensuring inclusivity for all citizens. 

As a testament to Saudi Arabia’s growth and path to prosperity, the International Monetary Fund recently named the Kingdom the fastest-growing economy among the G20 countries, with an overall growth rate of 8.7 percent.

Vision 2030 was launched in 2016 by the crown prince, who devised it as a broad framework for developing his country by establishing a diversified and sustainable economy and a new and vibrant society. 

The Kingdom created the Vision Realization Programs to make this agenda a reality. VRP covers the development of programs pertaining to quality of life, housing, fiscal sustainability, health, human capital, and the experience of Muslims performing Hajj. 

Saudi Arabia continues to demonstrate its commitment to transforming society by implementing these programs.

Hosting an international event of Expo 2030’s magnitude requires significant infrastructure. Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to win the bid has played a pivotal role in accelerating the implementation of Vision 2030’s goals. 

The Kingdom has already allocated a budget of $7.8 billion to investments for Riyadh in anticipation of the expo. More broadly, Vision 2030 aims to reach $3.3 trillion in national-level investments by the end of this decade. 

Riyadh Expo 2030 also presents a golden opportunity to attract foreign investment, contributing to the economic diversification goal of Vision 2030.

These reforms have been progressively introduced since the initial announcement of the Vision in 2016, beginning with modest changes that have since evolved into substantial and far-reaching transformative reforms.

A significant turning point occurred on Oct. 24, 2017, when the crown prince delivered a groundbreaking speech at the Future Investment Forum, where he unveiled NEOM, a colossal $500-billion megacity project, and underlined the Kingdom’s commitment to “modern Islam.”

Less than a year later, on Apr. 18, 2018, the Kingdom lifted its longstanding ban on movie theaters, marking a crucial first step toward restructuring its cultural landscape. Mere months later, on June 24, 2018, Riyadh went one step further and lifted the decades-old prohibition on women driving. 

The latter move proved a milestone in its journey toward societal progress and proof of the Kingdom’s willingness to enact hitherto unimaginable changes.

While some may view these reforms as long overdue, they are monumental for Saudi Arabia, and set the stage for the momentous change Vision 2030 envisages, fundamentally transforming the Kingdom’s society and economy. 

For decades, Saudi Arabia welcomed precious few tourists besides pilgrims. Its economy was also far from diversified or dynamic, relying almost solely on the revenue generated from oil exports. All this has begun to change rapidly in just a few short years.

Today, the Kingdom hopes to draw millions of visitors from around the world to expand its growing tourism sector, which has seen record growth since the start of this decade, while fulfilling Vision 2030’s objective of creating more employment opportunities for Saudi citizens. 

Central to Vision 2030, this initiative has provided the world with a unique opportunity to explore a land that was once shrouded in mystery.

Aside from catering to tourists seeking leisure in its many luxury resorts, Saudi Arabia has also shone a spotlight on its cultural and historical heritage sites, which were previously difficult for foreign tourists or even archaeologists to access. 

On Feb. 10, 2019, the Kingdom took a momentous step by unveiling the ancient oasis of AlUla, inviting tourists to experience its rich history and cultural heritage firsthand. 

Riyadh Expo 2030 would act as a platform for Saudi Arabia to share its history, traditions, and cultural diversity with the world, promoting cross-cultural understanding and supporting Vision 2030’s cultural preservation goals.

The Kingdom promises the expo will become the “first environmentally friendly exhibition that achieves zero” carbon emissions, Riyadh Expo 2030 team member Nouf Bint Majid Al-Muneef said in a speech delivered to BIE. 

The goal to host a zero-carbon emission expo also aligns with Vision 2030’s commitment to clean energy and sustainability. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia aims to derive 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

BIE member states will choose the host country for World Expo 2030 at their 173rd General Assembly scheduled for November this year. 

If Saudi Arabia wins, it will seize the opportunity to showcase its technological advancements, and the sweeping cultural and societal changes that Vision 2030 has accomplished in less than a decade.


Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia
Updated 24 May 2024
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Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The first group of pilgrims from Uzbekistan, 950 in total, arrived in Makkah on Thursday ahead of Hajj.

Several expressed “gratitude to the Kingdom’s government for the services and facilities that have been provided to make their pilgrimage safe and reassuring,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Meanwhile, the Saudi ambassador to Morocco, Sami Al-Saleh, attended a farewell ceremony at Rabat-Sale Airport as the first group of Hajj pilgrims from the country set off for the Kingdom. He was accompanied by the Moroccan minister of endowments and Islamic affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, and other senior government officials.

Similarly, the Saudi ambassador to Niger, Zaid Al-Harbi, saw off the first group of Nigerien pilgrims as they departed from the capital, Niamey. The country’s prime minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, was also present.

Closer to home, a second group of Hajj pilgrims from Iraq arrived at the Arar border crossing in the Northern Borders Province on Thursday, where authorities said they received a warm welcome and benefited from a range of services and procedures designed to streamline entry procedures.

The Iraqi pilgrims expressed their thanks and “commended the Kingdom’s leadership for the generous hospitality and exceptional services provided by the authorities responsible for Hajj affairs,” SPA reported. 

They also praised the facilities at the crossing, which officials said will operate around the clock throughout the Hajj season to provide the best possible pilgrimage experience.


Saudi FM discusses Gaza, West Bank with Palestinian PM

Saudi FM discusses Gaza, West Bank with Palestinian PM
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi FM discusses Gaza, West Bank with Palestinian PM

Saudi FM discusses Gaza, West Bank with Palestinian PM

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Thursday spoke to Palestinian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Mustafa by telephone, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said.

They discussed developments in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and its surrounding areas.


Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority issues statement following Riyadh food poisoning incident

Riyadh experienced a wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum at the end of April. (File/Shutterstock)
Riyadh experienced a wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum at the end of April. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 23 May 2024
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Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority issues statement following Riyadh food poisoning incident

Riyadh experienced a wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum at the end of April. (File/Shutterstock)
  • Nazaha says royal directives mandate the holding of all responsible officials accountable

RIYADH: Following the recent food poisoning incident at a Riyadh restaurant, the Kingdom’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority has said anyone found to be negligent in ensuring public health and safety will be held accountable.

The authority, also known as Nazaha, added on Thursday that measures will be taken against anyone found to have obstructed the investigation into the incident and concealed crucial information regarding the cause of poisoning.

Riyadh experienced a wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum at the end of April.

The outbreak was linked to the consumption of food from a Hamburgini fast-food restaurant and led to several hospitalizations and one death.

The Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing later announced that a Saudi Food and Drug Authority laboratory test found clostridium botulinum in the Bon Tum mayonnaise brand used by the food chain.

As a result, the distribution of the mayonnaise product was suspended and it was withdrawn from markets and food facilities across all cities in the Kingdom.

Operations at the Bon Tum factory producing the mayonnaise were halted in preparation for implementing statutory procedures.

Initial investigations by Nazaha “revealed attempts to conceal or destroy evidence, suggesting potential collusion by a small number of unscrupulous food establishment inspectors who prioritized personal gain over public health and safety,” the authority said on Thursday.

Nazaha said that royal directives mandate the holding of all responsible officials accountable, regardless of position.

“This applies to those who neglected or delayed fulfilling their duties, actions which may have contributed to the poisoning or hindered response efforts. Consequently, a high-level committee has been established to verify and oversee the implementation of these directives,” Nazaha said.

Nazaha added that comprehensive reports detailing the circumstances, causes, and those potentially responsible for the poisoning were produced around the clock after the incident.

The reports encompassed laboratory analyses of samples from various establishments and details of medical care provided to suspected victims, it said.

Precise laboratory testing, conducted by local and international foodborne illness specialists, swiftly identified the type and cause of the poisoning, the authority said.

Nazaha said the incident was contained and has been resolved.


Saudi Arabia secures membership in International Transport Forum

Saudi Arabia secures membership in International Transport Forum
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia secures membership in International Transport Forum

Saudi Arabia secures membership in International Transport Forum

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia secured membership in the International Transport Forum on the sidelines of the event held in Leipzig, Germany.

Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser said that the membership symbolizes the Kingdom’s commitment to addressing transportation challenges through innovative and sustainable solutions. It also supports the Kingdom’s established role in developing the transport and logistics sector, he added, highlighting the Saudi Vision 2030 goal of benefiting from the country’s strategic location to become a global logistics center.

Al-Jasser said that the Kingdom has made significant strides in logistics, jumping 17 places to reach 38th place globally in the logistics services performance index. Additionally, the Kingdom achieved 13th place globally in the IATA’s international air connectivity index and 16th in the maritime navigation network connectivity index. He also noted the launch of a new air carrier, Riyadh Air, aimed at connecting the Kingdom to more than 250 international destinations.

The Kingdom is committed to enhancing the resilience of its transport infrastructure, promoting sustainable mobility and ensuring equitable access to transport services for all, Al-Jasser said.

Saudi membership of the ITF confirms its prominent position in the global transport sector, the minister added. This membership will enable the Kingdom to contribute to enacting legislation and regulations that improve and develop transportation on an international scale, he said.


Italian shipbuilding giant floats Saudi Arabia partnership plan

Italian shipbuilding giant floats Saudi Arabia partnership plan
Updated 23 May 2024
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Italian shipbuilding giant floats Saudi Arabia partnership plan

Italian shipbuilding giant floats Saudi Arabia partnership plan
  • Fincantieri stands out in the shipbuilding industry for its innovation, says CEO

RIYADH: One of the world’s biggest shipbuilders will work in partnership with Saudi Arabia to strengthen the Kingdom’s maritime sector, with a focus on sustainability and the development of “green shipping.”

Fincantieri, an Italian company and Europe’s largest shipbuilding group, highlighted its commitment to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 agenda at a conference under the theme “Where Vision Meets Maritime Excellence” held in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Saudi decisionmakers from related sectors in Riyadh joined Italian officials in a range of sessions at the forum.

During the event, Fincantieri CEO Pierroberto Folgiero outlined the shipbuilder’s plans to collaborate with Saudi companies in line with Vision 2030.

“Our commitment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is steadfast,” he said.

Fincantieri stands out in the shipbuilding industry for its innovation, and has a leading role in the naval, cruise, and oil and gas sectors, Folgiero said.

The CEO highlighted the importance of developing green ships, designed to minimize the environmental impact of maritime operations, as part of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2060.

Digitizing shipyard operations through innovations such as AI also aligns with the goals of Vision 2030, Folgiero said.

“Today, the shipping industry and the maritime industry, in general, is coping with environmental regulation. For us, it is not only a source of compliance, but also a source of distinctiveness. So, we believe that in the maritime sector, in the shipbuilding sector, mastering energy transition and new technologies will be a source of competitiveness and distinctiveness,” he said.

“That is why we are engaged in all the solutions (regarding) energy transition at sea. We are a new engine. We are in biofuels. We are in methanol. We are in LNG. We are in ammonia. We are in hydrogen. We are everywhere there is innovation at sea.”

Maria Tripodi, undersecretary of state for foreign affairs at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, discussed the significance of keeping operations and businesses sustainable.

Fincantieri’s ships are built to produce zero carbon emissions, which helps to protect the environment and marine ecosystem, she said.

Khalil Ibrahim bin Salamah, deputy minister for industry affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, said: “Localization for us is a key factor. Key components are crucial, but the whole supply chain is equally important.”