Saudi Arabia marks in June the third anniversary of the pledge of allegiance to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. Saudis believe that the changes that he has introduced, with the blessing of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, marked a turning point in the Kingdom.
With his youth and long-term vision, Crown Prince Mohammed forged ahead with reform that supports the nation, citizens and residents alike. Through Vision 2030, he is striving to change the stereotypical image of Saudi Arabia as an oil source to a country with a diversified economy, while also improving living standards, cultural awareness and development.
In his third year as Crown Prince, observers hailed the major role he played in several important political files. The strategic relationship with the United States grows stronger, while Saudi Arabia has also pursued high level contacts with Russia over international political and economic issues. Saudi Arabia’s ties with China are also at their best through the savvy guidance of the Crown Prince.
Moreover, his efforts have transformed the Saudi capital, Riyadh, into a mainstay in the international community. In line with his statements that economy drives politics forward, Prince Mohammed has contacted global leaders to strike economic deals that support Saudi political policies at international arenas. Significantly, the Kingdom is the G20 president for 2020, meaning all decisions impacting the world must pass through Riyadh. The improvements in the Kingdom have been recognized by global economic agencies, confirming the soundness of its decisions and Vision.
Prince Mohammed’s reforms are taking place in all sectors. He has sought to improve the quality of life in Saudi Arabia and boost Saudi tourism. Quality of life is among the main aspects of the Vision 2030 and the transformation in the Kingdom has encouraged citizens and residents to set aside traveling abroad in favor for discovering the beauty of their own country.
Saudis rejoiced with Prince Mohammed’s moves to return the Kingdom back to its former normal life. Museums and cinemas have been opened and concerts for global and Saudi artists have been held in Riyadh, Jeddah and other cities. Women are now allowed to drive and they can also travel without permission from their guardians, allowing them to play a greater role in society.
Moreover, living in the age of innovation has paved the way for nontraditional projects, most significant of which are NEOM in northwestern Saudi Arabia, Qiddiya, the world’s largest entertainment megaproject, and the Red Sea project.
Furthermore, Prince Mohammed fulfilled his pledge to transform Saudi Aramco from an oil producing company into a global industrial conglomerate. In 2016, he decided on a public stock offering to sell 5% of the world’s biggest oil producer. Described at the time as a risk, Prince Mohammed proved skeptics wrong with the initial public offering (IPO) in December, when it began trading for the first time, gaining 10% in the first moments on the market and pushing its worth to $1.88 trillion, making it the most valuable listed company in the world.
Public Investment Fund
With the economy flying, Prince Mohammed sought to developed the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to transform it into one of the world’s largest sovereign funds. Its diverse portfolio of investments has seen it buy shares in major global companies, such as Boeing, Facebook, Citigroup, Disney and Bank of America. It has also disclosed an $827.7m investment in British oil giant BP.
In order for Saudi Arabia to continue to develop itself, it established a number of authorities and ministries, including the Ministries of Tourism, Investment and Sports. It also merged other ministries in order to allow the private sector to contribute effectively in the next stage of the national development program.
Ten years before the completion of Vision 2030, the world is witnessing an unprecedented crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many countries have failed to confront the outbreak, but the Fitch ratings agency in April declared the strength of the Saudi economy and the effectiveness of its reforms.
Prince Mohammed chairs the higher coordination committee that tackles crises and the Kingdom has taken dozens of measures to confront the pandemic and ease its impact on individuals, businesses and the economy. It has adopted a number of financial, fiscal and economic initiatives, worth 177 billion riyals (47.2 billion dollars) or nearly 9 percent of the Kingdom’s GDP. Nine billion riyals alone have been dedicated to protecting Saudi employees in the private sector and ensure that they do not lose their jobs.
Chairman of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ajlan Al Ajlan told Asharq Al-Awsat that Vision 2030 empowers the youth and women and aims for Saudi Arabia to join the ranks of advanced countries.
The vision has opened new economic horizons and created several jobs that will generate major revenue, he added. He cited the advances in the tourism and entertainment sectors that have attracted visitors from all over the world.
Furthermore, Prince Mohammed is keen on developing the economy and he has taken numerous measures that have attracted major investors, which will move forward the fulfilment of Vision 2030, he continued.
With the coronavirus pandemic, Ajlan said Saudi Arabia has succeeded in confronting the crisis, which will not derail the Vision.