Arab News Japan
The Japan-Saudi vision 2030 was launched by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2016 who aimed to develop a concrete framework to allow for Saudi Arabia’s growth and prosperity, in alliance with Japan.
The vision was driven by Crown Prince Mohammad’s visit to Japan and his growing ties to the country, and its former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
The union between the two countries was a way for Saudi Arabia to diversify the economy, away from a dependency on oil and develop a society with a quality lifestyle including world class tourism.
After the Saudi King’s visit in 2017, both countries worked in tandem on various projects, and created a set of shared values inclusive of diversity, innovation, and soft values.
These values intended to guide the expansion of Saudi Arabia’s energy, entertainment, healthcare, agriculture, culture, sports, education and finance.
The partnership between Japan and Saudi was a catalyst for change and allowed Saudi Arabia to transform their aspirations into tangible advances.
Some of the projects birthed under Saudi Vision 2030 include NEOM, The Red Sea Project, and Amala—all working to fortify Saudi’s tourism.
“We are now preparing for the development of NEOM Bay area, which will provide a new concept of urban living that will enable it to become a platform for attracting the world’s top minds for creating advanced economic sectors,” said Nadhmi Al-Nasr, NEOM chief executive, in January.
“All this aims to turn NEOM into a global center for attracting investment, knowledge, innovation and technology in order to compete with all economic capital cities,” he said.
The other two also intend to refine Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, and offer more luxurious, sustainable, and cultural solutions.
Aside from tourism, women’s rights and empowerment are a fundamental part of the vision.
“Under the visionary leadership of HRH Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has taken a giant step forward in empowering its women. While the world knows and talks about women drivers on Saudi roads, there’s more to this socio-economic and cultural change than meets the eye,” Hashimi, a Harvard doctorate degree holder, told Arab News.
More evident rights for women, and the overall development of gender equality within the region has also worked to facilitate Saudi-Japan bilateral relations.
Women being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, meant Japan’s automobile industry could benefit financially as Toyota accounted for 32% of vehicles sold in Saudi Arabia, a report by the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA) states.
Japan’s modern-day relations with Saudi Arabia and persistent support for the 2030 vision, stems from a lengthy historical bind between Japan and GCC countries.
Although Japan’s relation to Saudi was bound to oil beginning in 1957, now Saudi and Japan have worked to broaden their relations by encouraging financial partnerships between Japanese and Saudi financial institutions.
Additionally, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority welcomed foreign investments from a list of authorized Japanese companies like SMBC, a financial consultancy, SB Energy to sustain various revenue streams.
In 2019, a business forum was organized to showcase the opportunities by key Saudi government and private sector entities to partner with Japanese counterparts on the themes of Tourism and Entertainment, and Innovation and Productivity.
These efforts continue to augment to the already sturdy relationship between Japan and Saudi, and their cooperation to bring the Saudi Vision 2030 to life guarantees a prolonged and multi-faceted friendship between the two countries.