What Has Been Achieved So far?
Major changes have been made to the way the economy is structured and new industries are being developed. The goal is to diversify away from oil and create a more sustainable economy. As outlined by vision2030.gov.sa, here is just a small snapshot of some of the developments so far.
The Government Goes Digital
Saudi Arabia now ranks first in the world in several digital security indicators and has successfully digitised over 80% of government services. Using the Absher platform, citizens can perform over 335 services, while the Najiz platform enables users to access over 120 judicial services. Over 588,000 litigation hearings have since been held remotely during the pandemic, while 207,000 cases have been launched via the Electronic Litigation platform.
Saudi Welcomes Entertainment
Saudi Arabia has one of the youngest populations in the world with over two-thirds of citizens under the age of 35. As part of Vision 2030, the government has endeavoured to facilitate a more enjoyable lifestyle for its citizens. Since 2017, the number of entertainment facilities has increased from 154 to 277. In 2018, Saudi Arabia opened its first modern cinema and today there are now over 32 cinemas across the Kingdom.
To provide world-class healthcare for all citizens, the government has pledged to invest USD$66 billion in the nation's healthcare infrastructure by 2030. With the launch of the Mawid platform, patients can now book healthcare appointments online, streamlining access to essential services and making it easier for citizens to lead healthy lives. Since its launch, over 67 million appointments have been booked through the platform.
Tourism Arrives in the Kingdom
The launch of Saudi Arabia's e-visa program in September 2019 was a major step forward in the government's plans to boost tourism. The program allows citizens of 49 countries to apply for a tourist visa online, making it easier than ever before to visit the Kingdom. In 2021, Saudi Arabia welcomed over 62 million tourists and expects to welcome over 70 million in 2022.
What's Left to Do?
While great strides have been made, there is still a lot of work to be done for Saudi Arabia to achieve its ambitious goals. There are a number of mega projects that are still in the works. This includes Green Riyadh — a project to plant 7.5 million trees in the city — and NEOM — a USD$500 billion mega city being built from scratch in the northwest of the country. The Riyadh metro project is also nearing completion, and several similar public transport projects are yet to be launched in cities across Saudi Arabia such as Qassim, Taif, and Jazan.
Private sector contribution is also key to Vision 2030's success. The government has launched numerous initiatives to encourage the growth of the private sector and attract foreign investment. These include the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF). Although the government is working to diversify the economy, the country still relies heavily on oil revenue, so there is still a long way to go.
How Businesses Can Prepare
There are a few key areas that businesses should focus on to be successful in the new Saudi Arabia. With its focus on local employment, businesses need to ensure they are providing opportunities for Saudis. Additionally, businesses should focus on digitisation to be able to compete in the new digital economy. Digital transformation will be essential for businesses to stay competitive. The Saudi government is investing heavily in digitising its own services, and businesses need to follow suit. By providing digital services and products, businesses can reach a wider audience and improve their bottom line.
The increase in international tourists provides businesses with a great opportunity to tap into new markets. Businesses should focus on creating products and services that appeal to foreign visitors, while also ensuring that their employees are trained to provide a high level of customer service. As Saudi Arabia continues to develop, businesses need to be prepared for a new economic landscape. By focusing on these key areas, businesses can ensure that they are well-positioned for success in the new Saudi Arabia.