New Delhi : (Asia Times / Agency ) On September 23, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will celebrate its 88 th National Day.
It marks the day the Kingdom was unified under the founding King Abdulaziz bin
Abdulrahman Al Saud in 1932. On this occasion, we also celebrate the progress our
great nation has made over the last nine decades to become a modern state and a
major player on the international arena.
Yet another milestone event in our nation’s historic journey under the leadership of
the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the Crown
Prince HRH Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is April 25, 2016 – the day Vision 2030
was announced. The Vision expresses our long-term goals and reflects our country’s
strengths and capabilities. Our leadership’s vision is of a strong, thriving, and stable
Saudi Arabia that provides opportunity for all. The Vision emphasises scaling up
economic diversification, raising the skill level of the Saudi young men and women
and wisely utilizing the Kingdom’s abundant natural resources.
The Saudi Government is exerting continuous efforts at diversifying its economy to
achieve the goals set under Vision 2030. The ambitious $500 billion mega city
project, NEOM, is underway. The 26,500 square kilometres zone will focus on
diverse industries including energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced
manufacturing and entertainment. Additionally, the project of Al-Qiddiya – an
entertainment, sports and cultural destination- a first of its kind has been launched
earlier this year near Riyadh. These diverse cities will be significant in creating new
employment opportunities, and accelerating the growth of the Saudi Arabian
Our eyes are set on the future. Our New Solar Energy Plan 2030 is the world’s
largest project of its type. By 2019, the Kingdom’s first two solar generation projects
with 3GW and 4.2GW of solar capacity will be commissioned and by 2030, more
than 150 GW solar power will be generated. The Plan will help create up to 100,000
direct and indirect jobs in the Kingdom. Additionally, it will increase the GDP by
$12 billion and save up to $40 billion annually. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has been
strengthening its oil industry, one of the strongest drivers of its growth and has
maintained its position as a key enabler in the global oil economy. In April 2018,
Saudi Aramco and a consortium of three Indian oil companies signed a MoU to
jointly develop and build an integrated refinery and petrochemical complex in
Ratnagiri, West Coast of India. The project is estimated to cost around $ 44 billion.
The Kingdom has also initiated a program of restructuring at all levels of government
institutions. Digital services have been expanded to reduce delays and cut tedious
bureaucracy and ensure more efficiency, transparency, and accountability.
Significant steps have been taken to improve the business and investment climate to
promote industrial development, particularly small and medium-size enterprises
(SMEs). According to a recent World Bank report, Saudi Arabia instituted the largest
number of business reforms in the Middle East and North Africa region. In June
2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be included in the MSCI Emerging Markets
Index, the MSCI ACWI Index, and other applicable regional and international
indexes. Multiple regulatory and operational improvements are opening the domestic
market to international investors.
Social development is as crucial as economic development. Led by Vision 2030 and
the associated National Transformation Program, Saudi Arabia has surpassed a
majority of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was
made possible by integrating SDGs into specific and detailed plans and programs
developed by the government in partnership with the private sector and civil society
To promote full participation of women, the Kingdom has launched several
initiatives including a national observatory to monitor women’s participation in
economic and social development; including a digital portal for female job seekers.
The royal decree that has allowed women in the Kingdom to drive has further
enabled their participation in the progressive economy. Over 50% of Saudi university
graduates are women. Women have achieved remarkable increase in the Custodian of
the Two Holy Mosques Program for Scholarships Abroad in multiple disciplines.
Today, women scholarship students are enrolled at universities in 57 countries,
accounting for nearly 25% of our students abroad, nearly 150,000 students.
The country’s infrastructure is also being developed and upgraded, including
expansion of the railway system and introduction of a new light rail mass transit
project with metro lines and a community bus network in the Kingdom’s major cities
of Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Medinah.
With Vision 2030 serving as a blueprint, the Kingdom is working on the strategic
objective of welcoming 30 million pilgrims each year to perform Haj and Umrah.
The third phase of expansion of Grand Mosque launched by King Salman is making
good progress. Expansion of the building itself covers 1.47 million square metres,
including 78 new gates. The various new infrastructure and transportation projects
are beautifully shaping up. In Medina, the new Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz
Airport was inaugurated by King Salman in 2015. The new King Abdul Aziz
International Airport in Jeddah is expected to be fully operational in a few months.
The Haramain Railroad which has been going under testing for the last four months,
will be fully operational later this year. It will shorten the time of the journey
between the two holy cities of Makkah and Medina to a couple of hours with the
capacity of 60 million passenger per year.
As we focus on the development of our country and bringing about prosperity for our
people, we continue to face the challenges in our region and continue our responsible
role as a peace-loving nation. Political and Economic stability in the Middle East and
around the world is one of Saudi Arabia’s greatest priorities. Peace, stability, non-
interference, good neighbourliness and prosperity of the region will continue to be
our guiding principles. My country will continue its leading role in countering
extremism and terrorism and their supporters.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has maintained its pioneering role in spreading good-
will and compassion beyond its borders by being at the forefront of the international
community in terms of share of gross domestic product (GDP) earmarked for
humanitarian aid. The King Salman Centre for Humanitarian Aid and Relief, since its
was established in 2015, has provided humanitarian and development aid worth more
than $ 1.9 billion to more than 37 countries in four continents, implementing more
than 450 projects in areas of food security, housing and shelter, preventative health
care and education.
Lastly, I must say that India is one of our most important strategic partners. In all
aspects, our ties have grown and expanded. In the spheres of cultural ties and people
to people connection, earlier this year India was the guest of honour at the Kingdom's
National Heritage Festival, and Saudi Arabia is hosting over 3.2 million Indian
nationals, forming an important pillar of our relationship. Our energy cooperation
and joint investment is set to grow further and our security cooperation is also getting
stronger. The partnership between our two friendly countries will certainly continue
to grow further in the coming years.