Opinion: What Exactly Is Vision 2030 and What Does It Mean to Saudis?

Published October 15th, 2018 - 08:15 GMT
Vision 2030 aims to reduce the country’s dependency on oil and focus on untapped renewable energy resources. (Shutterstock)
Vision 2030 aims to reduce the country’s dependency on oil and focus on untapped renewable energy resources. (Shutterstock)

On Aug. 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, America’s inspiring black activist, said his famous words “I have a dream,” which turned into a global slogan for anyone who wanted to make any positive change in the world. Saudis say the same words today while they work hard and fast to achieve the objectives of their Vision 2030, masterminded by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and launched with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s blessing by the end of April 2016.

It is a big Saudi dream, which can be summed up in the following themes: prosperous economy, vibrant society, and ambitious nation. Vision 2030’s programs are: National Transformation Program, Quality of Life Program, Fiscal Balance Program, Public Investment Fund, Privatization Program and Financial Sector Development Program.

The Kingdom has finally decided to tap into its treasures, which remained untouched since its founding, and to invest in these treasures to build a bright future for itself on its own terms, not on the terms or conditions imposed by the global market conditions and international politics.

By prosperous economy, Vision 2030 aims to reduce the country’s dependency on oil and focus on untapped renewable energy resources as well as resources such as gold, phosphate and uranium. The Kingdom enjoys a strategic geographical location and has not tapped into its cultural heritage and tourist attractions. One of the Vision 2030’s objectives is to increase non-oil exports from 16 percent to 50 percent of the total non-oil GDP, raise its global ranking in the Logistics Performance Index from 49 to 25 and ensure the Kingdom is a regional leader, to increase foreign direct investment from 3.8 percent of the GDP to the international level of 5.7 percent, to rise from our current position of 25 to the top 10 countries on the Global Competitiveness Index, to increase the Public Investment Fund’s assets from SR600 billion to over SR7 trillion, to increase the localization of oil and gas sectors from 40 percent to 75 percent, to move from our current position as the 19th largest economy in the world into the top 15.

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Regarding vibrant society, Saudis celebrated a few months ago the launch of Quality of Life Program in Riyadh amid the presence of senior government officials, the media and a number of young men and women who graduated from the most prestigious universities in the US and Europe. The Quality of Life Program represents the Saudi dream from a social perspective as it focuses on promoting and tapping into the resources of tourism, entertainment and culture and improving health, educational and living services in order to create a vibrant and attractive social environment. The program grants equal and full rights and privileges to all members of society and contributes to the success of other aspects of the Vision, especially the ones related to economy and politics. It adopts a scientific approach for measuring the quality of life and compares it with global indexes to get more reliable results.

The indexes are: Global Livability Index, which is issued annually by the Economist Intelligence Unit, and which classifies cities in 140 countries based on the quality of urban life; Mercer Survey for Quality of Living Standards, which classifies 213 cities based on the quality of transportation, political, social and cultural environment, public services, health, economy, education, housing, entertainment, sports, consumables, restaurants and recreation; Moncole List of Most Livable Cities, which includes 25 most livable cities; World Happiness Index, which classifies 155 countries based on happiness; OECD Better Life Index; and AARP Livability Index.

The third theme of Vision 2030 , “Ambitious Nation”, aims to raise the non-profit sector’s contribution to GDP from less than 1 percent to 5 percent; increase household savings from 6 percent to 10 percent of total household income; raise our ranking on the E-Government Survey Index from our current position of 36 to be among the top five nations; raise our ranking in the Government Effectiveness Index, from 80 to 20; increase non-oil government revenue from SR163 billion to SR1 trillion.

Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is the one who developed Vision 2030 to create a new state led by its great and unstoppable ambition. In November 2017, American columnist Thomas Friedman asked Prince Muhammad about the reason that makes him work constantly as if running out of time, to which the crown prince answered, “I fear that the day I die I am going to die without accomplishing what I have in my mind. Life is too short and a lot of things can happen, and I am really keen to see it with my own eyes — and that is why I am in a hurry.

Few months later, CBS 60 Minutes Show host asked Prince Muhammad, “Can anything stop you?” to which he answered “Only death.”


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