Rev­o­lu­tion­ary shift in Saudi eco­nomic strat­egy

Pakistan Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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