RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s journey to achieve the development goals outlined in Vision 2030 will not stop at the end of this decade, according to Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan.
Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum on Wednesday in Doha, Al-Jadaan noted that Saudi Arabia has long-term infrastructure development plans.
His comments came as he reflected on the Vision 2030 initiative, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016 to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil.
“This journey is not going to end in 2030. This is an ongoing journey, there are a lot of opportunities that you can capture and harness,” said Al-Jadaan.
He added: “You could see lots of efforts in investing in infrastructure. And these are long-term plans. And we are not keeping it to ourselves. Actually, we are trying to make sure that not just the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), but the wider region gets benefits.”
The minister also highlighted the developmental milestones Saudi Arabia achieved over the past few years and said that the Kingdom was the fastest-growing economy among the G20 countries in 2022.
“We (Saudi Arabia) ended up with 8.7 percent (economic growth) last year. What is more important is the non-oil economy — which grew by 5.4 percent last year, and 5.8 percent in the first quarter of 2023. Unemployment is the lowest-ever in Saudi Arabia, while employment in the private sector is the highest-ever,” the minister noted.
Al-Jadaan further pointed out that women’s participation in Saudi Arabia’s workforce is currently 36 percent, which is double the figure from five years ago.
The minister added that the Gulf region, especially Saudi Arabia, has all the potential to emerge as a global trade hub, considering its unique geographical location.
“Saudi Arabia is in a very unique location, in the middle of cross-trade routes, where we are connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe. That gives you a competitive advantage. And we are actually seeing it in the number of ports listed in the top 10 worldwide, and they are from the region. The Gulf region has possibly the busiest airports worldwide in terms of international passenger traffic,” said Al-Jadaan.
He added: “This region is a very bright spot in a very difficult world today. This did not come by coincidence. It came through very strong progress executed through longtime coordination, to diversify the economy.”
Speaking at the same event, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said that the specialty of the Gulf region is its “remarkable determination to pursue reforms.”
She added: “There are some who think that the fortune of the Gulf is oil and gas. In fact, the fortune is the Gulf’s decisiveness in putting the economy on a long-term sustainable path.”