Eight years since its launch, Saudi Vision 2030 is already well ahead of schedule

Special Eight years since its launch, Saudi Vision 2030 is already well ahead of schedule
Vision 2030 is built upon three pillars: Building a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation, rolled out in phases. (AFP)
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Updated 25 April 2024
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Eight years since its launch, Saudi Vision 2030 is already well ahead of schedule

Eight years since its launch, Saudi Vision 2030 is already well ahead of schedule
  • Launching Vision 2030 in 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vowed to improve the Kingdom’s business environment
  • Today, the economy is creating employment opportunities for citizens and long-term prosperity for the nation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s transformation has involved many authors: The government, Saudi citizens, the private sector, and international partners. Their combined efforts have meant that by 2023 — the Vision 2030 midpoint — the plan was already ahead of schedule.

Eight years since its launch, the social reform and economic diversification blueprint’s promise is quickly being realized, with 87 percent of its 1,064 initiatives deemed completed or on track.

At its core, Vision 2030 is built upon three pillars: Building “a vibrant society,” “a thriving economy,” and “an ambitious nation,” rolled out with a phased approach, allowing the Kingdom to adapt, evolve, and become more agile.

As Saudi Arabia approaches the end of phase two — and the start of the 2025 implementation phase — the economic strategy, which was not without its doubters early on, is no longer a mere idea but a genuine transformation.




Eight years since the Kingdom's social reform and economic diversification blueprint was launched, 87 percent of the 1,064 initiatives are deemed completed or on track. (Getty Imaes/AFP)

By the end of 2023, some 197 of Vision 2030’s 243 key performance indicators had been fully achieved. Of those, 176 exceeded their targets.

A similar trend is evident across various socio-economic domains, prompting the nation to reconsider and set higher ambitions and targets for 2030. 

A technicolor economy

Launching the economic diversification plan in 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vowed to improve the Kingdom’s business environment, allowing the economy to flourish and drive employment opportunities for citizens and long-term prosperity for the nation.

From increasing foreign direct investments, growing the number of small and medium-sized enterprises and opening up new streams in fields like tourism and entertainment, the nation documented a record contribution from non-oil earnings.

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By the end of 2023, revenues surpassed $121.8 billion and contributed 50 percent to the real gross domestic product.

The Kingdom’s non-oil GDP amounted to over $503.6 billion, soaring past the baseline of over $404.9 billion and edging close to the target goal of $515.6 billion.

This comes as Saudi Arabia has implemented a series of economic and regulatory undertakings to stimulate private sector growth and attract foreign investment. These reforms include easing restrictions on foreign ownership in various sectors, streamlining business regulations and privatizing state-owned enterprises.

These ongoing shifts and Riyadh’s strategic location at the crossroads of three continents made it a valuable investment destination for global businesses. In 2023, more than 180 companies obtained permits to open regional offices in the Saudi capital.




Saudi Arabia's economic diversification plan has allowed the economy to flourish and drive employment opportunities for citizens. (Supplied) 

Concurrently, the private sector’s contribution to the total GDP amounted to 45 percent, marking a notable increase from the baseline of 40.3 percent and moving closer to the Vision’s target of 65 percent.

Echoing this notion, foreign direct investment showed notable growth, contributing 2.4 percent to the country’s GDP. 

The Kingdom’s sovereign wealth entity, the Public Investment Fund, had assets under management of over $749 billion in 2023, surpassing the annual target of approximately $720 billion. 

These successes prompted the Kingdom to rank first in the Middle East and North Africa region for venture capital investment in 2023, capturing 52 percent of the total capital deployed in the area with a value of $1.4 billion.

Furthermore, the economic participation and opportunities sub-index has increased to 0.637 from the baseline of 0.33, surpassing the annual target of 0.592.

An equitable workforce

Saudi Arabia achieved its lowest unemployment rate of 7.7 percent in 2023, compared to 12.3 percent in 2016, surpassing the 2023 target of 8 percent and nearing the Vision 2030 mark of 7 percent.

Yet, the nation’s most notable employment achievement remains characterized by a previously unsung section of its labor force, with female participation now standing at an all-time high of 35.5 percent, surpassing the 2030 goal.

Saudi Arabia has seen a growing number of women taking on leadership roles in various sectors, including government, business, academia, and media.

This success was further attributed to a government that has actively worked to expand job opportunities for women across a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, education, and finance as well as technology and hospitality.

Furthermore, Vision 2030 encourages female entrepreneurship and the growth of small businesses owned and operated by women. Initiatives such as loan programs, business incubators, and networking events provide support and resources for aspiring female entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

This led the nation to announce that it will be amending its previously highlighted Vision 2030 target for female participation.

SME boom

Small and medium enterprises, which are positioned to become a vital part of economic development in the Kingdom and an enabler to achieving Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, have recorded over 200 percent growth since the launch of the national plan.

This growth encapsulated SR10 billion ($2.67 billion) in financial aid for SMEs and 6.7 million employees in the sector by the end of 2023. 

In 2022, the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank was established by the Council of Ministers as one of several development funds and financial institutions affiliated with the National Development Fund. 

The SME Bank aims to increase financing provided to the sector and enhance institutions’ contributions to providing innovative funding solutions that help achieve stability for this sector.

Therefore, the Vision’s initiatives have further supported several programs, centers, and services provided by the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, also known as Monsha’at.

Among them is the “Tomoh” program, a community for fast-growing SMEs, aiming to stimulate their growth through services and programs. Tomoh contributed to listing 18 enterprises in the Saudi Stock Exchange parallel market “Nomu.”

 


Saudi airline flynas named Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for 7th consecutive year

Saudi airline flynas named Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for 7th consecutive year
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi airline flynas named Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for 7th consecutive year

Saudi airline flynas named Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for 7th consecutive year

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s flynas has been named the Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East for the seventh time in a row by a leading industry body.

The carrier was also ranked in the top three low-cost airlines in the world by the International Skytrax Organization, the global authority for assessing airline performance. 

Bander Al-Mohanna, CEO of flynas, received the gong for the firm’s Middle East ranking during the annual Skytrax Awards ceremony held in London. 

“Consolidating our position among the top four in the low-cost aviation sector worldwide and being named the Best LCC in the Middle East for the seventh time in a row, according to Skytrax awards, is a success in the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Mohanna said 

“The Kingdom is at the forefront of the world's countries in various fields, especially in the travel, tourism, and aviation sectors, which have received significant attention and goals of Saudi Vision 2030,” he added. 

Al-Mohanna attributed the achievement to the enduring loyalty of their guests, the dedication of their team, and the tremendous support that all Saudi companies enjoy from the government.

“Scooping the award for the seventh time in a row reflects flynas’ persistent commitment to excellence in products and services within the expansion and growth plan we launched under the slogan ‘We Connect the World to the Kingdom,’” he added. 

Al-Mohanna explained that this aligns with the objectives of the National Civil Aviation Strategy, which aims to enable national air carriers to connect the Kingdom with 250 international destinations, accommodate 330 million passengers, and host 100 million tourists yearly by 2030.  

He also noted that it supports the objectives of the Pilgrims Experience Program to facilitate access to the Two Holy Mosques. 

Skytrax Awards are decided yearly by passenger votes through comprehensive surveys and are among the most coveted awards in the aviation industry worldwide. 

Flynas connects more than 70 domestic and international destinations with over 1,500 weekly flights, aiming to reach 165 destinations, in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.


World Bank approves $700m financing for Egypt

World Bank approves $700m financing for Egypt
Updated 24 June 2024
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World Bank approves $700m financing for Egypt

World Bank approves $700m financing for Egypt

CAIRO: The World Bank has approved $700 million in financing to support Egypt’s private sector, economic resilience and green growth.

The Development Policy Financing operation is designed to help Egypt address short-term economic challenges while advancing structural reforms to spur private sector growth.

It also aims to hasten Egypt’s green transition, including by scaling up renewable energy and increasing efficiency in the electricity, water and sanitation sectors.

Egypt’s minister of international cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat, said: “The government of Egypt is undertaking ambitious economic and structural reforms aimed at creating a more competitive, green and private sector-led economy.

“Through this budget support instrument, the DPF with the World Bank helps advance policy reforms on three of its top national priorities: Building macro-fiscal resilience, enhancing economic competitiveness and improving the business environment, and supporting the green transition.

“Our longstanding partnership with the World Bank underpins the realization of Egypt’s development and reform efforts.”

The DPF is the first in a series of three operations.

It will advance key reforms, including strengthening governance for state-owned enterprises, empowering the the Egyptian Competition Authority, ensuring accuracy in payroll taxes, scaling up renewable energy and launching a voluntary carbon credit market regulatory framework.

In March, the World Bank Group announced a three-year $6 billion program to support Egypt.

“Creating good, sustainable jobs and building resilience to climate change are critical for the current and future prosperity of Egypt’s citizens — especially the poor and vulnerable,” said Stephane Guimbert, World Bank country director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti.

“Reforms supported by this operation are an important step toward a more sustainable, inclusive economy,” he added.

Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation said that the DPF is aligned with the World Bank and Egypt’s Country Partnership Framework for FY2023-FY2027.

The framework is based on research by the World Bank Group on Egypt, including the Country Private Sector Diagnostic and the Country Climate and Development Report.

Of the $700 million in the DPF, $200 million is contingent on complementary financing from development partners.

The ministry added that the DPF aligns with Egypt’s development priorities and national strategies, including the Sustainable Development Strategy Vision 2030, the State Ownership Policy, the National Climate Change Strategy 2050, and the Nexus of Water, Food and Energy.
 


Saudi Arabia launches world’s largest renewable energy geographic survey

Saudi Arabia launches world’s largest renewable energy geographic survey
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia launches world’s largest renewable energy geographic survey

Saudi Arabia launches world’s largest renewable energy geographic survey

RIYADH: The world’s largest renewable energy survey will take place in Saudi Arabia, it has been announced – with the installation of 1,200 measuring stations.

The Kingdom’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz Al-Saud inaugurated the Geographic Survey Project for Renewable Energy, stating that it is unprecedented in its scope and aims to pinpoint optimal sites for  solar and wind power initiatives across the Kingdom, according to an official release. 

The minister highlighted the project’s global significance, stating that no other country has undertaken a geographic survey of this magnitude. 

The undertaking, part of the National Renewable Energy Program, will conduct an extensive geographic survey covering over 850,000 sq. km, with contracts awarded to Saudi companies. 

This area, excluding populated regions, sand dunes, and airspace restrictions, is equivalent to the combined landmasses of the UK and France or Germany and Spain. 

The survey will identify the best locations for renewable energy development based on resource availability and strategic priorities.

The initiative will contribute to achieving the Kingdom’s goal of having renewable power sources make up about 50 percent of the energy mix for electricity production by 2030. 

It will also support the nation’s Liquid Fuel Displacement Program, which aims to displace 1 million barrels per day of liquid fuels across utilities, industry, and agriculture sectors by 2030.

Starting in 2024, Saudi Arabia plans to launch new renewable energy projects with an annual capacity of 20 gigawatts, aiming to reach between 100 and 130 GW by 2030, depending on electricity demand. 

The project’s initial phase will involve deploying stations across the designated areas to gather comprehensive data. 

These stations will then be relocated to identified sites for permanent installation, providing continuous data collection. 

Solar energy measurement stations will record Direct Normal Irradiance, Global Horizontal Irradiance, Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance, dust and pollutant levels, albedo, ambient temperature, rainfall, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. 

Wind energy stations will measure wind speed, direction, temperature, pressure, and humidity at heights up to 120 meters. 

Data collection will employ the latest technologies and adhere to global quality standards. 

A platform by the ministry will monitor, record, and transmit the information, using artificial intelligence to assess and rank sites for renewable energy projects. 

The minister noted that the accuracy and continuous updating of the project’s data make it financeable in accordance with the requirements of relevant local and international institutions.

He added that this will contribute significantly to the immediate allocation of land lots for renewable energy projects and expedite initiative announcement and execution, after coordination with relevant authorities.

The undertaking aims to reduce the current 18 to 24-month waiting period for data acquisition, minimizing risks and enhancing investment attractiveness in the renewable energy sector, he added. 

The minister further stated that this project reaffirms Saudi Arabia’s commitment to its ambitious renewable energy targets, including producing and exporting eco-friendly energy and clean hydrogen.


Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen sustainable infrastructure collaborations at London summit

Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen sustainable infrastructure collaborations at London summit
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen sustainable infrastructure collaborations at London summit

Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen sustainable infrastructure collaborations at London summit

RIYADH: Collaborations in city development, green technologies, and infrastructure financing were discussed by officials from Saudi Arabia and the UK at a special event in London.

The UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit, held on June 24, brought together over 250 leaders from the industry and financial sectors of both countries, along with key representatives from major giga-projects. 

This follows robust bilateral relations, with both countries signing an agreement in late 2022 to enhance cooperation on green finance, as Saudi Arabia increasingly seeks ethical funding for its transformative giga-projects. 

The Kingdom has committed to ambitious climate goals, including a target to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes annually by 2030 and to increase renewable energy generation capacity by 50 percent. 

The Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli said: “This summit offers an excellent platform to adopt and share knowledge gained from Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 sustainable development plans. Saudi Arabia is investing more in infrastructure than any other country in the Middle East region, including in 14 new giga-projects.”   

He added: “This investment, combined with the City of London’s expertise and leadership in sustainable finance, can set a global template for sustainable development.” 

The summit, organized by the Saudi British Joint Business Council in collaboration with the City of London Corp. and hosted at Plaisterers’ Hall in London, centered on discussions about urbanization, sustainable city development, and financing strategies, highlighting the expansion of green technologies and renewable energy solutions. 

The event was attended by a high-level Saudi delegation led by the Ministry of Investment and the Federation of Saudi Chambers. It builds on prior SBJBC and COLC gatherings, reinforcing the established Saudi-UK dialogue on clean energy development and decarbonization in the business sector. 

It also follows the recent Great Futures event held by the UK in Riyadh, underscoring increasing participation by UK companies in Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives aimed at transforming economic sectors and advancing giga project development. 

The event, supported by lead sponsors NEOM and Saudi Awwal Bank, underscores the importance of UK-Saudi cooperation in developing sustainable infrastructure and advancing the green transition. 

“I’m delighted to host this crucial summit. Sustainable infrastructure around the world is essential to tackling climate change, boosting economic development, and ensuring access to vital provisions such as transport, energy, and water,” said Mainelli. 

The panels delved into bridging the investment gap, utilizing smart urban planning for resilient and livable communities, and expanding initiatives in green technology and renewable energy. 


Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 
Updated 24 June 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Monday, losing 32.93 points, or 0.28 percent, to close at 11,697.04.       

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR8.6 billion ($2.3 billion), as 115 of the listed stocks advanced while 109 retreated.  

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu dropped 47.75 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 26,777.87. This comes as 21 of the listed stocks advanced while as many as 33 retreated. 

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index also dropped 5.07 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 1,470.61.  

TASI’s best-performing stock of the day was Miahona Co. The company’s share price surged 9.93 percent to SR23.46.     

Other top performers include Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. as well as Jazan Development and Investment Co., whose share prices soared by 7.88 percent and 6.92 percent to stand at SR91.70 and SR15.46, respectively.   

Additional top performers include Salama Cooperative Insurance Co. and Electrical Industries Co. 

The worst performer was Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., whose share price dropped by 5.99 percent to SR8.32.    

Other firms to see a drop were Mouwasat Medical Services Co. as well as ACWA Power Co., whose share prices dropped by 3.69 percent and 3.56 percent to stand at SR120.20 and SR351.80, respectively.   

Additional falling performers include Theeb Rent a Car Co. and Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group.     

In Nomu, Osool and Bakheet Investment Co. was the top gainer, with its share price rising by 16.80 percent to SR60.50.    

Other strong performers in Nomu were Mohammed Hadi Al Rasheed and Partners Co. as well as Al Mohafaza Co. for Education, whose share prices soared by 7.58 percent and 6.50 percent to stand at SR35.50 and SR20, respectively.   

Other top gainers include Future Care Trading Co. and Saudi Lime Industries Co.  

Mulkia Investment Co. was the major faller on Nomu, as its share price dropped 9.80 percent to SR31.30.    

The share prices of Alwasail Industrial Co. as well as Lana Medical Co. also fell by 4.68 percent and 4.47 percent to stand at SR2.65 and SR33.10, respectively.   

Other major losers include Saudi Top for Trading Co. and Jahez International Co. for Information System Technology.