RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, confirmed that the Vision 2030 programs have made great strides and addressed structural challenges over the past five years.
The crown prince also expressed his appreciation for the efforts of all governmental authorities for overcoming many challenges in recent months, praising the invaluable experiences gained which enhanced confidence in achieving the objectives of the vision.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman also confirmed that much more remains to be done on various fronts to achieve Vision 2030’s goals.
The Council of Economic and Development Affairs has reviewed the achievements of the Kingdom’s vision after five years of its inception. The vision has focused over the past five years on establishing an empowering infrastructure, building the institutional and legislative structures, establishing general policies, and supporting initiatives. The next phase of the vision will focus on the continuation of implementation, ensuring greater participation by citizens and the private sector.
The review covered the Vision’s three major themes as follows:
First: Vibrant Society:
The Council reviewed achievements aimed at raising the quality of life within the framework of an attractive and distinctive environment in order to make the Kingdom a leading global destination. This included facilitating access to emergency health services within 4 hours, at the rate of more than 87 percent, compared to 36 percent before the inauguration of the vision; reducing the percentage of traffic accident fatalities annually to 13.5 deaths per 100,000 after it was 28.8; and increasing the percentage of people who participate in sports activities at least once a week to 19 percent in 2020, compared to 13 percent before the launch of the vision.
The Council also reviewed the most notable achievements in the housing sector, as the percentage of home ownership increased to 60 percent, compared to 47 percent five years ago. In addition, obtaining housing assistance is now immediate, whereas it previously took up to 15 years before the launch of the vision.
The Council noted indicators related to the growing interest in archaeological and heritage sites, which had a direct impact on registering new Saudi sites in the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The number of heritage sites that can be visited in the Kingdom in 2020 has risen to 354 sites, compared to 241 sites in 2017. The Council also reviewed efforts to strengthen Saudi national identity and enhance its presence globally evidenced by the increase in the number of intangible cultural heritage elements registered in the UNESCO to 8 elements, compared to only 3 elements before the launch of the vision. The number of urban heritage sites registered in the National Cultural Heritage has also reached 1,000 sites in 2020, compared to only 400 sites in 2016.
The Council discussed the Vision’s success in increasing the Kingdom’s capacity to receive and accommodate pilgrims to the holy sites by expanding the system of services at the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites, in addition to automating the process of obtaining an Umrah visa within only 5 minutes, which previously took 14 days. This is in addition to the issuance of the “Electronic Tourist Visa” that can be obtained electronically within minutes. This has made it easier to visit tourist destinations and monuments in the Kingdom and has contributed to revitalizing the tourism sector and raising its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while developing various tourist destinations, and creating job opportunities for male and female citizens. The Kingdom’s tourism sector has become the fastest growing sector in the world, with a growth of 14percent.
The Council also made note of the contributions of the Vision’s programs over the past five years towards improving the quality of life in the Kingdom via attracting and organizing several world-famous sporting events. In addition, it also highlighted sports, cultural and volunteer events which attracted more than 46 million visitors through 2020. The number of companies operating in the entertainment sector has doubled, reaching more than 1,000 and generating more than 101,000 jobs by the end of 2020.
The Council also reviewed achievements related to the preservation, sustainability and protection of the environment, including the establishment of seven Royal natural reserves in 2018 and 2019 in order to preserve various plant and animal species, to be a contemporary genealogical reservoir. As well as achieving global milestones in the production of desalinated water. The Kingdom topped the global production of desalination of saline water with the highest production capacity reached by the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), which reached 5.9 million m3 per day in 2020. The replacement of thermal technologies and the expansion in the use of environmentally friendly technologies contributed to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 28 million tons per year. In addition to announcing mega projects to preserve the environment during the same period, the recently announced Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green initiative will aim to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution and land degradation, and preserve marine life.
Second: Prosperous economy:
The Council reviewed initiatives aimed at establishing an environment that supports business potential and broadens the economic base. It also noted that the assets of the Public Investment Fund have doubled to reach approximately SR1.5 trillion in 2020, after not exceeding SR570 billion riyals in 2015. It should be noted that the rate of international foreign investment flows has decreased by 58percent since 2015, whereas foreign direct investment inflows in Saudi Arabia increased to reach SR17.625 billion, an increase of 331percent, given it was SR5.321 billion before the launch of the Vision 2030. These initiatives also included launching major projects that contribute to the welfare of society, provide jobs and attract international investments, the most important of which are: NEOM, Qiddiya, Red Sea projects, and others.
The Council reviewed achievements related to the development of the financial sector, which included the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) joining the emerging market indices MSCI and Standard & Poor’s Dow Jones, which made it easier for foreign investors to invest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as the value of their holdings in the market increased by 195.9percent to reach SR208.3 billion by the end of 2020, with an ownership rate of 12.8percent of the total value of shares.
Moreover, the Fintech Saudi Center was established with the aim of opening financial services to new types of entities in the field of financial technology, and developing funds, accelerators and incubators that focus on financial technology to provide venture capital and equity financing and stimulate an entrepreneurial environment. These achievements contributed to making the Saudi Stock Exchange “Tadawul” one of the 10 largest financial markets around the world.
The Council reviewed the performance of the National Debt Management Center, as the center has managed during the past five years since its establishment to support the general budget of the Kingdom by approximately SR897 billion.
The Council discussed the achievements made in the fields of generating jobs for the future and supporting innovation, by supporting small and medium enterprises as one of the most important engines of economic growth. It noted with interest that the Kingdom’s has moved up to the 12th rank in the Venture Availability of Capital Index in the Global Competitiveness Report 2020, and ranked third globally in Minority Investor Protection Index. Moreover, the Kingdom advanced to the 24th position globally in the Global Competitiveness Report 2020, after ranking 39th in 2018. Meanwhile, in addition to passing laws that protect and enhance their rights at the personal and professional levels, Saudi women’s participation in the workforce increased to reach 33.2percent in 2020, compared to 19.4percent in 2017.
The Council also discussed the acceleration in the growth of the non-oil GDP ratio to reach 59percent in 2020, compared to 55percent in 2016. Non-oil revenues also increased to reach SR369 billion in 2020, compared to SR166 billion in 2015, an increase of 222percent, while the number of factories increased by 38percent to 9,984 factories compared to 7,206 factories before the launch of the vision. This coincided with the launch of pioneering initiatives, including: the launch of the Made in Saudi program; the “Shareek” program to strengthen partnership with the private sector and increase the pace of GDP growth; the establishment of an export-import bank, and the launch a mining investment system.
In the field of digital economy, the Council reviewed the initiatives that propelled the Kingdom to first place in digital competitiveness at the level of the G20, achieving first place in the world in 5G Internet speed, and covering more than 60percent of major cities and 45percent of other cities by deploying more than 12,000 towers that support 5G technology. The Kingdom also ranked sixth among the G20 states in the Global Cybersecurity Index of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and in the expansion of optical fiber network coverage, as 3.5 million homes in urban areas were covered by optical fiber networks in 2020, after it was only 1.2 million in 2017.
Furthermore, the Kingdom attracted the largest technology investments in the Middle East and North Africa, with deals that exceeded SR6 billion in cloud computing sector.
In the field of energy, the Council reviewed the most important achievements made since the launch of the Vision 2030, which included distinguished achievements at the national and international levels. The Kingdom, which founded the OPEC Plus grouping of nations, reached a historic achievement in 2020 represented by the largest reduction in production the oil market has ever known. This contributed to restoring stability and balance to global markets and addressing the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy. The Kingdom also encouraged the concept of a circular carbon economy adopted by the G20, demonstrating the Kingdom’s commitment to protecting the environment and combating climate change within the framework of the Paris Agreement and relevant international conventions.
Furthermore, the first of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques projects for renewable energy were also inaugurated, including Sakaka plant to produce electricity. Other projects to produce electricity from solar energy have been announced in different regions of the Kingdom, and some of these projects have achieved new records represented in registering the lowest cost of purchasing electricity produced from solar energy in the world.
The total capacity of these projects was estimated at more than 3600 megawatts. These projects will provide energy for more than 600,000 housing units. This is in addition to several clean energy projects to produce hydrogen and ammonia. Renewable energy projects will contribute to diversifying the energy mix used in electricity production, so that electricity production from renewable energy and gas will be 50percent each by 2030, and this will result in the displacement of approximately one million oil equivalent barrels of liquid fuel.
The electricity sector also witnessed clear and deliberate steps towards enhancing its efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability, such as the restructuring of the sector, the issuance of the new electricity system, and the reorganization of the Water and Electricity Regulatory Authority. In addition, more than ten million smart electronic meters have been installed, a step towards digitizing the sector.
The Saudi petroleum industry also witnessed the approval of the development of the Jafurah gas field, the discovery of five new oil and gas fields, and the continued integration of the petroleum and petrochemical sectors.
The Council reviewed the contributions of the vision programs in creating an environment conducive to developing skills and continuing to invest in education and training, as the number of universities and colleges reached 63, while the published scientific research reached 33,588 compared to 15,056 in previous years, an increase of 223 percent. The enrolment rate in kindergartens has also increased, to 23percent, compared to 13percent.
The Council reviewed the achievements in the field of localizing military industries, as the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 programs were able to increase the rate of localization in the sector to reach 8percent by the end of 2020, compared to 2percent in 2016. Also, for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, a program of licenses to engage in military industries activities was launched, whereby 91 local and international companies were licensed, with 142 foundation licenses.
Third: Ambitious Nation:
Within the framework of improving regulations and services, and expanding communication channels between government agencies, and citizens and the private sector, the Council reviewed the achievements of the initiatives that made major transformations in the effectiveness of government work, including the issuance of more than 197 legislations in various fields, including laws, regulations, bylaws and organizational arrangements.
The maturity rate of digital government services increased to 81.3percent compared to 60percent in 2017, which contributed significantly to the improvement of services being provided for citizens and residents of the Kingdom.
The Council reviewed what has been achieved in terms of combatting corruption and enhancing integrity, as the culture of accountability has been entrenched at the level of the government apparatus and among citizen, the total money recovered by the public treasury following anti-corruption settlements reached 247 billion riyals in the past three years, representing 20percent of the total non-oil revenues, in addition to tens of billions of non-cash assets transferred to the finance ministry.
The council reviewed the qualitative leaps of the achievements made in the judiciary, as the rate of enforcement courts’ achievement increased to 82percent, The rate of personal status courts’ achievement increased to 59percent, along with strengthening the specialized judiciary system, the activation of litigation at two degrees and the activation of electronic litigation, as the number of judicial sessions held between 2015 and 2020 reached more than 10 million sessions, compared to 2.7 million judicial sessions from 2009 to 2014 and the number of issuance of Power of Attorney increased to 11 million notaries from 2015 to 2020 compared to 2.2 million notaries between 2009 and 2014.
Number of localization agreements were signed and entered into effect with various supervisory authorities with the aim of increasing the localization rates in various sectors, contributing to the employment of more than 422,000 male and female citizens since the beginning of 2019.
The Council discussed what has been achieved in the non-profit sector and social responsibility, as the number of volunteers in 2020 reached 409,123 male and female volunteers in more than 156,000 volunteering opportunities compared to 23,000 volunteers in 2016. The number of male and female volunteers registered in the volunteering platform reached 533,950, with the economic value for individual volunteering increased from 0.6 riyals per hour in 2016 to 21.27 riyals per hour.
In addition, the Council discussed providing adequate housing for those covered by social security services according to the ownership or the right of usufruct system, through integration and partnership with the non-profit sector and more than 350 social association by providing more than 46,000 housing units all over the kingdom’s regions. In addition, the platform of “Joud” for housing was launched to involve the community in providing a helping hand for charitable giving housing through a reliable platform and in cooperation with 121 charitable societies. This platform has contributed to supporting more than 23,000 with society’s contributions exceeding SAR400 million through two tracks: the provision of housing and the support of citizens who are defaulting on payment for housing rental.
The next phase in realizing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030:
The Council took several recommendations necessary to move to the next stage of the process of realizing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which was launched at the beginning of this year 2021, and continues until 2025, which is the phase of advancing achievement and maintaining the momentum required to continue the reforms.
This includes making development updates on the vision realization programs to ensure its consistency with the targets, increase the efficiency of spending and respond to economic developments, through three basic areas:
First: Restructuring some of the current programs and creating others that are in line with the requirements of the next phase, such as establishing a health sector transformation program that aims to restructure the health sector to be a comprehensive health system to realize the vision aspirations.
Second: Giving flexibility to the implementation schedules of some programs, setting priorities for implementing initiatives, and enabling changes in legislative policies.
Third: Transferring the initiatives of: “promotion of national character”, “leading national companies” and “strategic partnerships” to the relevant entities and under their programs. This comes after these initiatives have achieved most of their goals in the first five years of the vision, absence of the need to preserve its independence in the next phase.
The next phase of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is set to be marked by the continued development of promising and new sectors. The acceleration of achievement in implementing the vision realization programs will contribute to promoting economic growth and supporting local content, increase its contribution to the economic development in the Kingdom, facilitate the business environment, in addition to further strengthening the role of citizens and the private sector in achieving the vision, through more empowerment to employ capabilities and invest the potentials to achieve more success and progress.