Saudi Arabia is reportedly making plans for a post-oil future economy that is diversified and frees the kingdom from its utter dependence on oil. King Salman of Saudi Arabia made an announcement on Al-Arabiya, a Saudi-owned television network that the Saudi Arabian cabinet had approved a plan, “Vision 2030,” designed to create more jobs in Saudi Arabia as well as open the door for more foreign investors in the kingdom. In his televised addressed to his supplicants, the king of Saudi Arabia encouraged Saudis to work cohesively to help make his post-oil plans a reality.
As USA Today reports, the King Salman’s televised address to his subjects was followed by a pre-recorded message from Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s 30-year-old son. The Crown Prince is second in line to the Saudi Arabian throne and the leader of the Saudi Arabian Council for Economic and Development Affairs, which puts him directly in the middle of Saudi Arabia’s post-oil plans for the future.
According to the prince, Saudi Arabia’s post-oil plans were developed in response to the current vulnerability of the Saudi stock market, which is due largely to current crude oil prices. This year, crude oil prices dropped to the lowest point in a decade. Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that the Vision 2030 post-oil reforms are intended to handle problems related to unemployment and housing in Saudi Arabia as well as ensuring that energy and water subsidies are dispensed to those who need them the most.
During his brief, pre-recorded statement, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had few details relating to the economic policies and budget needs related to the “Vision 2030.” He told the kingdom that those details would be released in six weeks as part of his National Transformation Plan.
Despite being light on details, Saudi Arabia’s post-oil vision for the future has some lofty goals. The plan is to make changes to Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian oil company, by re-branding it into “an energy and industrial conglomerate,” as well as to raise the kingdom’s non-oil revenue by $100 billion. Saudi Arabia plans to make this happen in just four years, by 2020. The prince also announced a plan to sell less than 5 percent of Saudi Aramco in an initial public offering.
“The vision is a roadmap of our development and economic goals. A part of that is related to Aramco and this is a very small aspect.”
In order to facilitate a post-oil economy, Saudi Arabia is planning to boost revenue not related to crude oil through an array of endeavors. The prince announced proposals related to expanded mineral mining and expanding the kingdom’s production of military equipment. Saudi Arabia is also looking to tourism to help build its post-oil future. The prince announced plans to be hospitable to “other types of tourists” than the millions of Muslims flocking to Medina and Mecca annually and to begin a new “residency visa program” that would allow Arabs and Muslim to reside in Saudi Arabia for long periods of time.
The Saudi Arabian prince announced plans to begin a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund, as well. He said that the money will not be managed by Aramco but rather a board of directors and that the revenue generated would be used for infrastructure development within Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s newest announcement about a reform effort is far from the first the world has heard from the kingdom. In recent decades, multiple reform efforts have been announced and attempted, all with negligible to modest results. The Vision 2030 post-oil blueprint, however, may be the most ambitious reform proposal in the history of the kingdom.
The timing of the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s new post-oil economic plan comes as relations between the kingdom and the United States have become increasingly strained and tumultuous. A coalition of U.S. lawmakers has introduced a bill that would allow victims of U.S.-based terror attacks (namely 9/11) to sue the sovereign nations that materially support such attacks. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, if it reaches his desk. Saudi Arabia has announced that if the bill goes through, the kingdom will sell hundreds of billions of dollars worth of American assets in retaliation.
As Common Dreams reports, there is a lot of speculation publicly and privately that 9/11 may have been funded (at least in part) by Saudi Arabia.
Americans may know more, and soon, about Saudi Arabia’s potential involvement in 9/11. The Obama administration’s head of national intelligence is reportedly working to declassify and release 28 pages of “confidential and deeply controversial documents” from the 9/11 Commission Report. The secret pages are believed to reveal the network of financial support that financed the 9/11 hijackers. According to the man in charge of the declassification of the documents, James Clapper, Americans could be reading the still-secret documents by June. It is possible that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s new post-oil plan has something to do with the potential of further weakening diplomatic ties with the U.S.
[Photo by Hassan Ammar/File/AP Images]