RIYADH: Following is the full text of the Saudi Vision 2030 document unveiled in Riyadh on Monday by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman:
“Saudi Arabia: the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the investment powerhouse, and the hub connecting three continents”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is blessed with many rich assets. Our geographic, cultural, social, demographic and economic advantages have enabled us to take a leading position in the world.
To build the best future for our country, we have based our Vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on three pillars that represent our unique competitive advantages. Our status will enable us to build on our leading role as the heart of Arab and Islamic worlds. At the same time, we will use our investment power to create a more diverse and sustainable economy. Finally, we will use our strategic location to build our role as an integral driver of international trade and to connect three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. Our Vision is built around three themes: a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation. This first theme is vital to achieving the Vision and a strong foundation for economic prosperity. We believe in the importance of a vibrant society. Members of this society live in accordance with the Islamic principle of moderation, are proud of their national identity and their ancient cultural heritage, enjoy a good life in a beautiful environment, are protected by caring families and are supported by an empowering social and health care system.
In the second theme, a thriving economy provides opportunities for all by building an education system aligned with market needs and creating economic opportunities for the entrepreneur, the small enterprise as well as the large corporation. Therefore, we will develop our investment tools to unlock our promising economic sectors, diversify our economy and create job opportunities. We will also grow our economy and improve the quality of our services, by privatizing some government services, improving the business environment, attracting the finest talent and the best investments globally, and leveraging our unique strategic location in connecting three continents.
Our nation is ambitious in what we want to achieve. We will apply efficiency and responsibility at all levels. Our third theme is built on an effective, transparent, accountable, enabling and high-performing government. We will also prepare the right environment for our citizens, private sector and non-profit sector to take their responsibilities and take the initiative in facing challenges and seizing opportunities. In each of these themes, we highlighted a selection of commitments and goals, as a reflection of our ambition and a representation of what we aim to achieve. This Vision will be the point of reference for our future decisions, so that all future projects are aligned to its content. To clarify our next steps, we have already prepared the ground and launched some executive programs at the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. We will now launch a first portfolio of crucial programs with the aim to achieve our goals and honor our commitments. Sustainable success can only be achieved when built upon solid foundations. Our Vision, grounded in our country’s strengths, will deliver this stability and create a brighter future for our country and our people.
1 A Vibrant Society
1.1 A vibrant society... with strong roots
We have enormous untapped opportunities and a rich blend of natural resources, but our real wealth lies in our people and our society. We take pride in what makes our nation exceptional: our Islamic faith and our national unity. Our nation is the core of the Arab and Islamic worlds and represents the heart of Islam.
We are confident that, God willing, we will build a brighter future, one based on the bedrock of Islamic principles. We will continue to excel in performing our duties toward pilgrims to the fullest and promote our deep-rooted national identity.
1.1.1 Living by Islamic values
Islam and its teachings are our way of life. They are the basis of all our laws, decisions, actions and goals. Following Islam’s guidance on the values of hard-work, dedication, and excellence, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “That Allah loves us to master our work”. Therefore, the principles of Islam will be the driving force for us to realize our Vision. The values of moderation, tolerance, excellence, discipline, equity, and transparency will be the bedrock of our success.
In this context, we have recently begun a third expansion to the Two Holy Mosques, as well as modernizing and increasing the capacities of our airports. We have launched the Makkah Metro project to complement the railroad and train projects that will serve visitors to the Holy Mosques and holy sites. We have reinforced the network of our transport system to facilitate access and help pilgrims perform their visits with greater ease and convenience. At the same time, we will enrich pilgrims’ spiritual journeys and cultural experiences while in the Kingdom.
We will establish more museums, prepare new tourist and historical sites and cultural venues, and improve the pilgrimage experience within the Kingdom.
1.1.3 Taking pride in our national identity
We take immense pride in the historical and cultural legacy of our Saudi, Arab, and Islamic heritage. Our land was, and continues to be, known for its ancient civilizations and trade routes at the crossroads of global trade. This heritage has given our society the cultural richness and diversity it is known for today. We recognize the importance of preserving this sophisticated heritage in order to promote national unity and consolidate true Islamic and Arab values. We will endeavor to strengthen, preserve and highlight our national identity so that it can guide the lives of future generations. We will do so by keeping true to our national values and principles, as well as by encouraging social development and upholding the Arabic language. We will continue to work on the restoration of national, Arab, Islamic and ancient cultural sites and strive to have them registered internationally to make them accessible to everyone and, in the process, create cultural events and build world-class museums which will attract visitors from near and far. This will create a living witness to our ancient heritage, showcasing our prominent place in history and on the map of civilizations.
Among our commitments…
The honor to serve the increasing number of Umrah visitors in the best way possible
We are honored to attend to pilgrims and Umrah visitors’ needs, fulfilling a role bestowed on us by Allah. Our expansion of the Two Holy Mosques has led to a tripling in the number of foreign Umrah visitors over the last decade, reaching eight million in 2015. By increasing the capacity and by improving the quality of the services offered to Umrah visitors, we will, by 2020, make it possible for over 15 million Muslims per year to perform Umrah and be completely satisfied with their pilgrimage experience.
We will achieve this by improving visa application procedures which will smooth the visaprocess with the aim of full automation. We will also further integrate e-services into the pilgrims’ journey, which will enrich the religious and cultural experience. Both the public and private sectors will play a crucial role in this project as we work to upgrade accommodation, improve hospitality and launch new services for pilgrims.
Among our commitments…
The largest Islamic museum
We have always taken — and will continue to take — great pride in our heritage. Mohammad, the Last of Prophets (peace be upon him) was from Makkah, the birthplace of Islam. Madinah is where the first Islamic society was born.
Among our goals by 2030…
To increase our capacity to welcome Umrah visitors from 8 million to 30 million every year.
To more than double the number of Saudi heritage sites registered with UNESCO.
1.2 A vibrant society.. with fulfilling lives
The happiness and fulfillment of citizens and residents is important to us. This can only be achieved through promoting physical, psychological and social well-being. At the heart of our Vision is a society in which all enjoy a good quality of life, a healthy lifestyle and an attractive living environment.
1.2.1 Promoting culture and entertainment
We consider culture and entertainment indispensable to our quality of life. We are well aware that the cultural and entertainment opportunities currently available do not reflect the rising aspirations of our citizens and residents, nor are they in harmony with our prosperous economy. It is why we will support the efforts of regions, governorates, non-profit and private sectors to organize cultural events. We intend to enhance the role of government funds, while also attracting local and international investors, creating partnerships with international entertainment corporations. Land suitable for cultural and entertainment projects will be provided and talented writers, authors and directors will be carefully supported. We will seek to offer a variety of cultural venues — such as libraries, arts and museums — as well as entertainment possibilities to suit tastes and preferences. These projects will also contribute to our economy and will result in the creation of many job opportunities.
1.2.2 Living healthy being healthy
A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an essential mainstay of a high quality of life. Yet opportunities for the regular practice of sports have often been limited. This will change. We intend to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities, working in partnership with the private sector to establish additional dedicated facilities and programs. This will enable citizens and residents to engage in awide variety of sports and leisure pursuits. We aspire to excel in sport and be among the leaders in selected sports regionally and globally.
1.2.3 Developing our cities
Our cities already enjoy high levels of security and development. Despite the current turmoil in the region and the wide expanse of our territories, our country and citizens are safe and secure. Our cities are among the safest in the world with annual crime rates that are less than 0.8 per 100,000 people, far below the international rate of 7.6. We will maintain our safety and security by supporting ongoing efforts to fight drugs abuse, as well as by adopting further measures to ensure traffic safety, reduce traffic accidents and minimize their tragic consequences.
Our cities have grown significantly in recent decades; a growth which has been accompanied by the steady development of their infrastructure. To ensure we can continue to enhance the quality of life for all and meet the needs and requirements of our citizens, we will continue to ensure high quality services such as water, electricity, public transport and roads are properly provided. Open and landscaped areas will also be developed further, to meet the recreational needs of individuals and families.
1.2.4 Achieving environmental sustainability
By preserving our environment and natural resources, we fulfill our Islamic, human and moral duties. Preservation is also our responsibility to future generations and essential to the quality of our daily lives. We will seek to safeguard our environment by increasing the efficiency of waste management, establishing comprehensive recycling projects, reducing all types of pollution and fighting desertification.
We will also promote the optimal use of our water resources by reducing consumption and utilizing treated and renewable water. We will direct our efforts toward protecting and rehabilitating our beautiful beaches, natural reserves and islands, making them open to everyone. We will seek the participation of the private sector and government funds in these efforts.
Among our commitments…
“Daem”: meaningful entertainment for citizens
We will increase the number and variety of cultural and entertainment activities with the aim of opening dedicated venues to showcase our citizens’ myriad talents. We will also review our regulations to simplify the establishment and registration of amateur, social and cultural clubs. We will launch and provide the necessary financial support for “Daem”, a national program to enhance the quality of cultural activities and entertainment. The program will create a national network of clubs, encourage the exchange of knowledge and international experiences and promote better awareness of a wide range of hobbies and leisure activities.
By 2020, there will be more than 450 registered and professionally organized amateur clubs providing a variety of cultural activities and entertainment events.
Among our goals by 2030…
· To have three Saudi cities be recognized in the top-ranked 100 cities in the world
· To increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the Kingdom from the current level of 2.9% to 6%
· To increase the ratio of individuals exercising at least once a week from 13% of population to 40%
1.3 A vibrant society.. with strong foundations
Our goal is to promote and reinvigorate social development in order to build a strong and productive society. We will strengthen our families, provide the education that builds our children’s fundamental characters and establish empowering health and social care systems.
1.3.1 Caring for our families
Families are the key building block of a society, protecting it from social breakdown across generations, and acting as both its children’s sanctuary and the main provider of their needs. One of the defining characteristics of the Kingdom is its adherence to Islamic principles and values, together with the unity and extended family relations. Building on these key characteristics, we will provide our families with all the necessary support to take care of their children and develop their talents and abilities. In particular, we want to deepen the participation of parents in the education process, to help them develop their children’s characters and talents so that they can contribute fully to society. Families will also be encouraged to adopt a planning culture, to plan carefully for their future and the futures of their children.
1.3.2 Developing our children’s character
We intend to embed positive moral beliefs in our children’s characters from an early age by reshaping our academic and educational system. Schools, working with families, will reinforce the fabric of society by providing students with the compassion, knowledge, and behaviors necessary for resilient and independent characters to emerge. The focus will be on the fundamental values of initiative, persistence and leadership, as well as social skills, cultural knowledge and self-awareness. We will also promote cultural, social, volunteering and athletic activities through empowering our educational, cultural and entertainment institutions.
1.3.3 Empowering our society
We will continue modernizing our social welfare system to make it more efficient, empowering and just. Subsidies for fuel, food, water and electricity will be better utilizedby redirectingthem toward those in need. We will provide our most vulnerable citizens with tailored care and support. Together with the private sector and non-governmental organizations, we will offer preparation and training to those unable to find employment so they can smoothly join the workforce whenever possible.
The public sector will focus on promoting preventive care, on reducing infectious diseases and in encouraging citizens to make use of primary care as a first step. It will deepen collaboration and integration between health and social care, as well as supporting families to provide home care when necessary for their relatives. The public sector will focus on its planning, regulatory and supervisory roles in health care. We intend to provide our health care through public corporations both to enhance its quality and to prepare for the benefits of privatization in the longer term. We will work toward developing private medical insurance to improve access to medical services and reduce waiting times for appointments with specialists and consultants. Our doctors will be given better training to improve treatment for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer that threaten our nation’s health.
Among our commitments…
“Irtiqaa”: A more prominent role for families in the education of their children The engagement of parents in their children’s education is one of the main principles of success. Our goal by 2020 is for 80 percent of parents to be engaged in school activities and the learning process of their children.
We will launch the “Irtiqaa” program, which will measure how effectively schools are engaging parents in their children’s education. We will establish parent-led boards in schools, to open discussion forums and further engage with parents. Teachers will receive training to raise their awareness of the importance of communicating with parents and equip them with effective methods to do so successfully. We will also collaborate with private and non-profit sectors to offer innovative educational programs and events that can improve this academic partnership.
Among our commitments…
Corporatization: efficient and high quality health care
Our goal is to enhance the standard and quality of health care services. Our aim is a health care sector that promotes competition and transparency among providers. This will enhance the capability, efficiency and productivity of care and treatment and increase the options available to our citizens.
To achieve this goal, we will introduce corporatization into the sector by transferring the responsibility for health care provision to a network of public companies that compete both against each other and against the private sector. This will provide our citizens with the highest quality of health care while, at the same time, allowing the government to focus on its legislative, regulatory and supervisory roles. Corporatization shall also promote and prioritize specialization in health care services and enable citizens to choose their preferred service provider.
Among our goals by 2030…
· To raise our position from 26 to 10 in the Social Capital index.
· To increase the average life expectancy from 74 years to 80 years
2 A Thriving Economy
2.1 A thriving economy.. rewarding opportunities
The skills and competencies of our children are one of the most important and cherished assets. To make the most of their potential, we will build a culture that rewards determination, provides opportunities for all and helps everyone acquire the necessary skills to achieve their personal goals. To this end, we will reinforce the ability of our economy to generate diverse job opportunities and institute a new paradigm in attracting global talents and qualifications.
2.1.1 Learning for working
We will continue investing in education and training so that our young men and women are equipped for the jobs of the future. We want Saudi children, wherever they live, to enjoy higher quality, multi-faceted education. We will invest particularly in developing early childhood education, refining our national curriculum and training our teachers and educational leaders.
We will also redouble efforts to ensure that the outcomes of our education system are in line with market needs. We have launched the National Labor Gateway (TAQAT), and we plan to establish sector councils that will precisely determine the skills and knowledge required by each socio-economic sector. We will also expand vocational training in order to drive forward economic development. Our scholarship opportunities will be steered toward prestigious international universities and be awarded in the fields that serve our national priorities. We will also focus on innovation in advanced technologies and entrepreneurship.
2.1.2 Boosting our small businesses and productive families
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are among the most important agents of economic growth; they create jobs, support innovation and boost exports. SMEs in the Kingdom are not yet major contributors to our GDP, especially when compared to advanced economies. Therefore, we will strive to create suitable job opportunities for our citizens by supporting SME entrepreneurship, privatization and investments in new industries. To help us achieve this goal, we have established the SME Authority and we will continue encouraging our young entrepreneurs with business-friendly regulations, easier access to funding, international partnerships and a greater share of national procurement and government bids. Our productive families now enjoy vast marketing opportunities through social media and digital platforms. We will facilitate access to these channels, enable microfinance and motivate the non-profit sector to build the capabilities of our productive families and fund their initiatives.
2.1.3 Providing equal opportunities
Our economy will provide opportunities for everyone — men and women, young and old — so they may contribute to the best of their abilities. We will place a renewed emphasis on lifelong training and wewill seek to make the most of the potential of our workforce by encouraging a culture of high performance. These efforts will be coordinated by the recently established Job Creation and Anti-Unemployment Commission.
One of our most significant assets is our lively and vibrant youth. We will guarantee their skills are developed and properly deployed. While many other countries are concerned with aging populations, more than half of the Saudi population is below the age of 25 years. We will take advantage of this demographic dividend by harnessing our youth’s energy and by expanding entrepreneurship and enterprise opportunities.
Saudi women are yet another great asset. With over 50 percent of our university graduates being female, we will continue to develop their talents, invest in their productive capabilities and enable them to strengthen their future and contribute to the development of our society and economy.
We will also enable those of our people with disabilities to receive the education and job opportunities that will ensure their independence and integration as effective members of society. They will be provided with all the facilities and tools required to put them on the path to commercial success. 2.1.4 Attracting the talents we need
Achieving our desired rate of economic growth will require an environment that attracts the necessary skills and capabilities both from within the Kingdom and beyond our national borders. We will seek to improve living and working conditions for non-Saudis, by extending their ability to own real estate in certain areas, improving the quality of life, permitting the establishment of more private schools and adopting an effective and simple system for issuing visas and residence permits.
Our goal is to attract and retain the finest Saudi and foreign minds, and provide them with all they need. Their presence in the Kingdom will contribute to economic development and attract additional foreign investment.
Among our commitments…
To this end, we will prepare a modern curriculum focused on rigorous standards in literacy, numeracy, skills and character development. We will track progress and publish a sophisticated range of education outcomes, showing year-on-year improvements. We will work closely with the private sector to ensure higher education outcomes are in line with the requirements of the job market. We will invest in strategic partnerships with apprenticeship providers, new skills councils from industry, and large private companies. We will also work toward developing the job specifications of every education field. Furthermore, we will build a centralized student database tracking students from early childhood through to K-12 and beyond into tertiary education (higher and vocational) in order to improve education planning, monitoring, evaluation, and outcomes.
Among our commitments…
A bigger role for small and medium-sized enterprises
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute only 20 percent of our GDP whereas, in advanced economies, this contribution can reach up to 70percent. Despite the efforts made to improve the business environment in the Kingdom, SMEs can still endure unnecessarily slow and complex legal and administrative procedures. They also struggle to attract the necessary skills, capabilities and funding with financial institutions providing no more than 5 percent ofthe overall funding — a far lower percentage than the global average. We will strive to facilitate enhanced access to funding and to encourage our financial institutions to allocate up to 20 percent of overall funding to SMEs by 2030.
The recently established SME Authority plans to review laws and regulations thoroughly, remove obstacles, facilitate access to funding, and enable youth and entrepreneurs to market their ideas and products. At the same time, we will establish additional new business incubators, specialized training institutions and venture capital funds. These will aid entrepreneurs in developing their skills and networks. We will also support SMEs in marketing and help export their products and services, by leveraging e-commerce and collaborating with international stakeholders.
Among our goals by 2030…
· To lower the rate of unemployment from 11.6% to 7%.
· To increase SME contribution to GDP from 20% to 35%.
· To increase women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30%.
2.2 A thriving economy.. investing for the long-term
Diversifying our economy is vital for its sustainability. Although oil and gas are essential pillars of our economy, we have begun expanding our investments into additional sectors. We understand that there are complicated challenges ahead but we have long-term plans to overcome them. In the past 25 years, the Saudi economy has grown by an annual average rate of more than 4 percent, contributing to the creation of millions of new jobs. Although we are already among the 20 largest economies in the world, our ambitions are even greater. We aspire to have an even higher ranking by 2030, despite the headwinds of the global economic slowdown and the expected impact of our structural economic reforms. This requires us to invest in all our resources in order to diversify the economy, unleash the capabilities of our promising economic sectors and privatize some government services.
The Public Investment Fund will not compete with the private sector, but instead help unlock strategic sectors requiring intensive capital inputs. This will contribute toward developing entirely new economic sectors and establishing durable national corporations.
Building on the Kingdom’s leading position and historic alliances, we plan to enter long-term partnerships with neighboring and friendly countries for knowledge transfer and trade.
Our Vision is to maximize our investment capabilities by participating in large international companies and emerging technologies from around the world. This will ensure that we become market makers in selected sectors, as well as a leader in competitively managing assets, funding and investment.All of this will require the formation of an advanced financial and capital market open to the world, allowing greater funding opportunities and stimulating economic growth. To this end, we will continue facilitating access to investing and trading in the stock markets. We will smooth the process of listing private Saudi companies and state-owned enterprises, including Aramco. This will require deepening liquidity in our capital markets, fortifying the role of the debt market and paving the way for the derivatives market.
2.2.2 Launching our promising sectors
We will support promising sectors and foster their success so that they become new pillars of our economy. In the manufacturing sector, we will work toward localizing renewable energy and industrial equipment sectors. In the tourism and leisure sectors, we will create attractions that are of the highest international standards, improve visa issuance procedures for visitors, and prepare and develop our historical and heritage sites. In technology, we will increase our investments in, and lead, the digital economy. In mining, we will furnish incentives for and benefit from the exploration of the Kingdom’s mineral resources. At the same time as diversifying our economy, we will continue to localize the oil and gas sector. As well as creating a new city dedicated to energy, we will double our gas production, and construct a national gas distribution network. We will also make use of our global leadership and expertise in oil and petrochemicals to invest in the development of adjacent and supporting sectors.
2.2.3 Privatizing our government services
Although we believe in the important role of the private sector, it currently contributes less than 40 percent of GDP. To increase its long-term contribution to our economy, we will open up new investment opportunities, facilitate investment, encourage innovation and competition and remove all obstacles preventing the private sector from playing a larger role in development. We will continue to improve and reform our regulations, paving the way for investors and the private sector to acquire and deliver services — such as health care and education — that are currently provided by the public sector. We will seek to shift the government’s role from providing services to one that focuses on regulating and monitoring themand we will build the capability to monitor this transition. We will seek to increase private sector contribution by encouraging investments, both local and international, in health care, municipal services, housing, finance, energy and so forth.
Among our commitments…
Localize defense industries
The benefits of localizing our own defense industries are not limited to solely reducing military spending. It also stimulates other industrial sectors such as industrial equipment, communications and information technology, which in turn creates more job opportunities.
Although the Kingdom is the world’s third biggest military spender, only 2 percent of this spending is within our Kingdom. The national defense industrial sector is limited to only seven companies and two research centers.
Localization will be achieved through direct investments and strategic partnerships with leading companies in this sector. These moves will transfer knowledge and technology, and build national expertise in the fields of manufacturing, maintenance, repair, research and development. We will also train our employees and establish more specialized and integrated industrial complexes.
Among our commitments…
A mining sector contributing to the national economy at full potential
We have been blessed with rich mineral resources such as aluminum, phosphate, gold, copper, uranium and other raw materials. Although the mining sector has already undergone improvements to cater to the needs of our industries, its contribution to GDP has yet to meet expectations. As such, we are determined to ensure it reaches SAR 97 billion by 2020, creating 90,000 job opportunities in the process.
We are planning a number of structural reforms, which include stimulating private sector investments by intensifying exploration, building a comprehensive database of the Kingdom’s resources, reviewing the licensing procedures for extraction, investing in infrastructure, developing funding methods and establishing centers of excellence. We will also form strategic international partnerships and raise the competitiveness and productivity of our national companies. This will boost their contribution to the sector’s growth, as well as to the localization of knowledge and expertise.
Among our commitments…
A renewable energy market
Even though we have an impressive naturalpotential for solar and wind power, and our local energy consumption will increase three fold by 2030, we still lack a competitive renewable energy sector at present. To build up the sector, we have set ourselves an initial target of generating 9.5 gigawatts of renewable energy. We will also seek to localize a significant portion of the renewable energy value chain in the Saudi economy, including research and development, and manufacturing, among other
From inputs such as silica and petrochemicals, to the extensive expertise of our leading Saudi companies in the production of different forms of energy, we have all the raw ingredients for success. We will put this into practice with the forthcoming launch of the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative. We will review the legal and regulatory framework that allows the private sector to buy and invest in the renewable energy sector. To localize the industry and produce the necessary skill-sets, we will also encourage public-private partnerships. Finally, we will guarantee the competitiveness of renewable energy through the gradual liberalization of the fuels market.
Among our goals by 2030…
· To move from our current position as the 19th largest economy in the world into the top 15.
· To increase the localization of oil and gas sectors from 40% to 75%
· To increase the Public Investment Fund’s assets, from SAR 600 billion to over 7 trillion.
2.3 A thriving economy.. open for business
Opening Saudi Arabia further for business will boost productivity and smooth our journey to become one of the largest economies in the world. We will improve our business environment, restructure our economic cities, create special zones and deregulate the energy market to make it more competitive.
2.3.1 Improving the business environment
We will further pursue public-private partnerships, continue to facilitate the flow of private investment and improve our competitiveness. We will develop the necessary capabilities to increase the quality and reliability of our services. We will coordinate with legislative authorities to review current regulations with the aim of improving the business environment and enforcing contracts.
Where it exists in strategic locations, we will also capitalize on the government’s reserves of real estate. We will allocate prime areas within cities for educational institutions, retail and entertainment centers, large areas along our coasts will be dedicated to tourist projects and appropriate lands will be allocated for industrial projects.
We will enable banks and other financial institutions to adapt their financial products and services to the needs of each sector, ranging from large project capital funding to short-term working capital for small businesses. We will also facilitate and expedite licensing procedures based on our national economic priorities. We will apply international legal and commercial regulations strictly and create a business environment conducive to long-term investment.
We will strive to facilitate the movement of people and goods, and to simplify customs procedures at our ports.
As a result, we will create an environment attractive to both local and foreign investors, and earn their confidence in the resilience and potential of our national economy.
This effort will depend on the readiness of these companies to work with the government. Our aim is for these cities to contribute in the development of the economy and to attract quality investments as well as local and international talent, all kept in line with our national priorities.
2.3.3 Establishing special zones
We will create special zones in exceptional and competitive locations. We shall take into account the comparative advantages of the Kingdom’s different regions, assess their feasibility for promising sectors, and then establish special zones, such as logistic, tourist, industrial and financial ones. Special commercial regulations to boost investment possibilities and diversify government revenues willbe applied to these zones.
2.3.4 Increasing the competitiveness of our energy sector
We plan to raise the efficiency of the government’s support system and make the best use of its benefits by redirecting it and targeting eligible citizens and economic sectors. For example, we understand that providing subsidies with no clear eligibility criteria is a substantial obstacle to the energy sector’s competitiveness. Free market prices shall, in the long term, stimulate productivity and competitiveness among utility companies and open the door to investment and diversification of the energy mix in the Kingdom. We will also seek to set clear subsidy criteria based on the maturity of economic sectors, their ability to compete locally and internationally and their actual need for subsidies, without endangering promising and strategic sectors.
Among our commitments…
A restructured King Abdullah Financial District
In the last decade, works started at the King Abdullah Financial District, without consideration ofits economic feasibility. The objective was to prepare the land in order to allow the business and financial communities to invest and build real estate. When this objective was not reached, the government decided back then to develop and rent the real estate. Challenges were deepened by the development of the real estate project in one single phase, whichcaused a significant increase in construction costs and several delays in delivery. This resulted in large oversupply of commercial space for the years to come. Without any dramatic shift in direction, renting the three million square meters of built-up areas at reasonable prices, or even achieving decent occupancy rates, will be very challenging. With this in mind, we have reviewed the economic feasibility of and designed a new fundamental strategy for the district in order to increase the chances of profitability and success. We will seek to transform the district into a special zone that has competitive regulations and procedures, with visa exemptions, and directly connected to the King Khaled International Airport. We will also seek to repurpose some of the built-up areas and change the real estate mix, increasing the allocation for residential accommodation, services and hospitality areas. We will seek to build and create an integrated and attractive living and working environment. The district will be the headquarters of the Public Investment Fund, the largest sovereign wealth fund, which will contribute to creating an environment attractive to financial, investment and other corporations.
Among our commitments…
A flourishing retail sector
Over the past decade, the retail sector achieved an annual growth rate in excess of 10 percent. It currently employs 1.5 million workers, of which only 0.3 million are Saudis. Traditional retail also still dominates 50 percent of the market in the Kingdom compared to 20 percent in a number of countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with our retail market suffering from limited penetration of modern trade and e-commerce. We aim to provide job opportunities for an additional million Saudis by 2020 in a growing retail sector that attracts modern, local, regional, and international brands across all regions of the country. We also aim to increase the contribution of modern trade and e-commerce to 80 percent of the retail sector by 2020. This will be achieved by attracting both regional and international retail investors and by easing restrictions on ownership and foreign investment.
To this end, we will facilitate local and regional flow of goods and develop necessary sectoral regulations. We will also increase financing of small retail enterprises to stimulate their growth and development.
Among our commitments…
A developed digital infrastructure
A sophisticated digital infrastructure is integral to today’s advanced industrial activities. It attracts investors and enhances the fundamental competitiveness of the Saudi economy.
We will partner with the private sector to develop the telecommunications and information technology infrastructure, especially high-speed broadband, expanding its coverage and capacity within and around cities and improving its quality. Our specific goal is to exceed 90 percent housing coverage in densely populated cities and 66 percent in other urban zones.
We will also develop building standards to facilitate the extension of broadband networks.
We will strengthen the governance of digital transformation through a national council. Additionally, we will improve our regulations and establish an effective partnership with telecom operators to better develop this critical infrastructure. We will also support local investments in the telecommunications and information technology sectors.