Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

Five Years of Achievements to ‘Vision 2030’

Five Years of Achievements to ‘Vision 2030’

Sunday, 25 April, 2021 - 10:30
Ahmed Al Khateeb
Saudi Minister of Tourism

Today marks the fifth anniversary of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launching “Vision 2030,” a national transformation plan in which qualitative advancement and a comprehensive development renaissance across various sectors have come to reflect our Kingdom’s competitive edge and strategic weight.


We have opened doors wide for foreign investment and succeeded in attracting some of the world’s strongest investors, redefining the tourism industry, and accomplishing a series of important social and cultural reforms that were impossible to imagine a decade ago.


Acknowledging the need to move the economy away from oil dependency, diversify sources of income and invest in human capital, the Kingdom introduced the changes needed to move the nation forward on the path of future growth and development.


Last year, we succeeded in achieving record non-oil revenues that accounted for 46.5% of the state's total returns. Before, oil accounted for 90% of the Kingdom’s income.


Considered one of the main drivers of “Vision 2030,” the Saudi tourism sector has enjoyed unlimited support from the Kingdom’s wise leadership. Both the national transformation plan and unwavering commitment from the Crown Prince have contributed to the tourism industry witnessing major growth.


A royal decree established the Saudi Ministry of Tourism with the aims of promoting, evolving, and looking after the Kingdom’s travel industry and boosting the role it plays. Obstacles in the way of tourism growth are being overcome by Saudi Arabia's great potentials.


Several ambitious achievements have been made since the Kingdom started implementing key developmental measurements for boosting its holiday industry. Programs included in “Vision 2030” have helped generate innovative e-visa solutions that gave tourists from 49 countries the chance to obtain express visas.


By March 2020, more than 440,000 visas were issued, earning Saudi Arabia its well-deserved label as the fastest growing tourist destination in the world, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).


Our efforts gave the Saudi tourism spending index a 26% boost, raising it from SAR 130.5 billion in 2015 to SAR 164.6 in 2019. An e-platform, dubbed “Visit Saudi,” was launched. It offers a calendar for various events and activities taking place in the Kingdom.


More so, a Tourism Development Fund with an initial capital of SAR 15 billion was created to attract investments and finance tourism facilities. It has granted loans to more than 67 projects worth over SAR 200 million.


We strive for the tourism sector to become a primary driver of economic and human capital development, providing both investment opportunities and new jobs.


On top of seeking to add 1 million jobs by 2030, we are working on presenting training and rehabilitation programs for the Kingdom’s tourism and hospitality sectors.


Also, we have launched “Your Future is in Tourism,” a campaign designed to help achieve the goals of creating 100,000 jobs for citizens in the tourism sector this year.


The Saudi Tourism Ministry is also in the process of carrying out regulatory reforms designed to ease business procedures. Amendments have been introduced to licensing and classification systems for hotels in the Kingdom in a way that guarantees improved license issuance and digital solutions.


Granting the many successes achieved, the ministry is still at the start of the journey towards creating a tourism future that matches the aspirations of the Kingdom's leadership.


Megaprojects such as “Neom”, “Amaala”, “Red Sea”, “Qiddiya” and “Diriyah Gate” have brought the Kingdom great fame as they provide an integrated scheme for sustainability and lifestyle, and which are being developed to be models to be emulated around the world.


“The Line,” a futuristic smart city in Neom, will have no cars, no streets, and no carbon emissions. As a pioneering model, it will encourage tourism and provide high-end entertainment options for Saudis and residents, making the Kingdom one of the best places to live in the world.


Saudi Vision 2030 programs like “Quality of Life 2020,” will also offer citizens a chance to enjoy new cultural, entertainment, and sports activities. We have worked on reviving concerts and reopening cinemas, and we hosted Formula E’s 2021 Diriyah ePrix, which was held for the first time in the Middle East.


In Riyadh, the Diriyah Gate project hosted heavyweight boxing and international tennis tournaments that have attracted about 1.2 million visitors so far.


As for the Kingdom’s defense industry, we are after enhancing national manufacturing capabilities for high-grade military equipment and advanced technologies. This is considered vital to both strengthening Saudi Arabia’s industrial foundation and helping us achieve self-sufficiency.


Through the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), we are making every effort to realize the Crown Prince's pledge to localize 50% of the Kingdom's military spending by 2030, compared to 2% currently. Moreover, SAMI wants to become one of the top 25 military companies worldwide.


The defense company is committed to developing its very own supply chain through setting up joint ventures across its five main divisions and investing in strategic areas. It hopes to directly contribute around SAR14 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2030 and create over 40,000 jobs.


SAMI signing a joint venture with Lockheed Martin this year marks a significant achievement that supports these ambitions and reflects the Kingdom's commitment to developing an integrated defense industry system through global partnerships.


Founded in 1975, the Saudi Fund for Development has signed 714 agreements worth around SAR 61 billion to date. In this manner, we have contributed to advancing and financing economic and social development projects and programs in 83 countries globally.


In November 2020, we hosted a virtual summit for G20 leaders that produced the Riyadh Declaration.


This was yet another milestone in the Kingdom's efforts to enhancing communication and dialogue with the rest of the world, and I take pride in contributing to those efforts.


We are now at a crossroad that demands a reassessment of our performance and plans, especially as the Kingdom and other nations prepare to step out of the shadows of the coronavirus pandemic and embark on a journey towards recovery.


Now is the most appropriate time to study, evaluate, and draw lessons from experience.


We look forward to advancing the Kingdom’s ambitious march towards more prosperity, building the future by relying on the capabilities of our national cadres and preserving the series of successes we have achieved in record timing.


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia