Revolutionary shift in Saudi economic strategy
SAUDI King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud took a number of bold but much-needed policy initiatives to accelerate the pace of development, modernize different spheres of life and carve out a place of prominence for the Kingdom in regional and global affairs. His Government moved a step further on Monday and unveiled a long-term broad-based economic blue-print for the next 15 years.
Saudi Arabia has been implementing gradual plans to lessen its dependence on oil but it is, perhaps, for the first time that a revolutionary strategy has been announced in the shape of “Saudi Vision 2030” that envisages regulatory, budgetary and policy changes to diversify the economy and thereby preparing for life beyond oil. The plan has many things both for Saudis, who have hailed it, and the international community as it looks forward to intensifying economic and commercial interaction with other countries besides further easing life for expatriate workers. For Saudis, it pledges a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation through a combination of measures while the world can expect more investments from the Kingdom as it has opted for creation of the globe’s largest Sovereign Wealth Fund of two trillion dollars. The planned economic diversification also involves localizing renewable energy and industrial equipment sectors and creating high quality tourism attractions. No doubt, Saudi Arabia is world’s largest producer and exporter of oil and has one quarter of world’s known oil reserves – more than 260 billion barrels - but it is also a fact that it is an exhaustible source and income from oil is falling due to sharp reduction of its prices in the international market. It is, therefore, but natural that Saudis should prepare for the future and the new plan has the potential to transform the Kingdom. Saudi rulers have wisely been utilizing the oil wealth to create huge infrastructure in the country and for provision of facilities for their people but it is time the money is used more productively for manpower development, industrialization and diversified investments abroad.