This summer marks the fifth anniversary of the historic launching of Vision 2030, which put the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the threshold of a new phase of development and a wide-ranging leap forward.
The inauguration of Vision 2030 with all its ambitious plans, projects and initiatives meant no less than transforming the state and society of Saudi Arabia and bringing it into a new epoch in its history. An in-depth look at the content of Vision 2030 would show that it combines continuity with change in a way that secured the badly needed shift while averting the possibility of disruption and turmoil.
This is so because it drew a lot from the far-sightedness and wisdom of the Founding Father of modern Saudi Arabia (King Abdulaziz al-Saud) and his clairvoyance while crossing the line towards meeting the requirements of modern times, most notably the breakthroughs in information technology, cybernetics and communication. This marriage between continuity and change is premised on a staunch belief in the long-held principle that stability is dependent on the ability to introduce the necessary change.
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman absorbed this dictum quite well and acted accordingly, as was amply illustrated in his comprehensive TV review of the Vision, which he gave recently.
The first five years of the Vision proved to be tough and most challenging, as his Excellency Dr. Mohammad al-Tuwaijry said in a recent dialogue he held with a number of Chiefs of Saudi diplomatic Missions abroad. This is so because it laid the foundations and the infrastructure that paved the road towards the finale of the visionary journey with all its attendant programs. This started from the National Transformation Program, which focused on the achievement of 30% of the Vision goals (totaling 96 strategic goals), all dealing with transforming the quality and pace of government performance.
In tandem with the National Transformation Program, multiple plans and projects were delineated and elaborated to terminate the era of complete dependency on oil as the main source and basis of national economy and adopt a new economic policy founded on the principle of diversification of sources of income according to which oil production would become one of many sources of income. This was made possible through a diversified and creative handling of the real and potential sources of national wealth.
Additionally, and in line with the ambitious goals of the Vision to have a more vibrant society and achieve a high level of sustainable development, specific measures or decisions were taken to enhance this process of socio-economic development encompassing the following fields:
- invigorating the role of private sector in the national economy by substituting competitiveness for partnership as the basis of relations between the private sector and the government sector.
- Underscoring the values of efficiency, transparency, openness and accountability, as necessary preconditions in the conduct of government and administration.
- Focusing on the youth component of society as the main element in the process of social and economic development.
- Empowering women by opening all available avenues that would enable them to assume their legitimate role in the government and private sectors of society. Now, we have more CEO's, deputy-Ministers, and in a significant step, three ambassadresses who have been entrusted to lead diplomatic missions in the US, Norway and Sweden, not to mention of our Representative at UNESCO, in Paris.
- Adopting a new sense of investment, domestic and foreign, with the Public Investment Fund, playing a central role in financing mega Investment Projects such as "The Red Sea", Qiddiya and Diriyah, "Neom", "The Line" and a multiplicity of other projects nationwide. All of these projects are being implemented in partnership with internal and external businesses.
- Utilizing the great potential of tourism in the vast diversified physical environment of Saudi Arabia.
- Promoting cultural activities and arts in all its forms, including theatre, music and the movie industry.
- Rediscovering our ancient treasures as exhibited in various archeological sites and ruins, all over the country.
- Launching systematic campaigns against all forms of corruption and malpractice, through the adoption of strict monitoring system that assures discipline, efficiency and compliance with regulations.
All of the above are just examples of the reforms that constitute the substance and essence of Vision 2030, which, as we have seen, took the form of a series of initiatives and programs of actions designed for their implementation and application.
The challenge of COVID-19 may have caused slight adjustments in the Vision strategies, but it could in no way, affect our determination to go forward. Most remarkably, we managed to host the G20 Summit even during the pandemic wave.
The coronavirus crisis, instead of debilitating us, prompted us to to fix our environment with two additional initiatives: "The Green Saudi Arabia" and "The Green Middle East". These two projects aim to plant 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia, and ultimately extend this plan, through the concerted efforts of the Middle Eastern countries and the international community to cover the whole area with 50 billion trees, thus turning the desert areas into green-covered lands.
The intended purpose of this bold enterprise is to create a clean environment with a considerably reduced carbon emissions, the containment of dust waves and the combating of pollution.
These green initiatives are just examples to confirm our determination to deal with the impact of climate change.
Five years have passed since the inauguration of Vision 2030 and much of its substance has been realized. But I can assure you that more is coming, as our Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made this crystal clear in his important TV interview.
H.E. Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Al Jindan
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg