Saudi Arabia has changed tremendously over the last decade. The once extremely conservative nation has taken strides towards modernity, growth, and innovation; making them the third most competitive country in the GCC region.
Saudi Arabia was economically stable, primarily relying on oil production for revenue. They were the top oil producing country in 2010 and remained in the top 5 globally for the following years. The unexpected oil price crash in 2014 to 2015 led Saudi Arabia to diversify their economy away from oil.
In 2016, King Salman released the Vision 2030; the Kingdom’s plan to improve the economic and social foundation of the country and achieve economic stability again.This was the beginning of the Kingdom’s steps to modernisation and historic shifts.
As a result, the Kingdom made massive progression towards modernisation through women’s rights, lifting the entertainment and tourism bans, privatization deals, investing in infrastructure and education, and encouragement of foreign investment.
In the past few years, women in Saudi Arabia have gained the right to drive after the government lifted the driving ban on women in 2017 and licenses were issued in 2018. This lead to an increase of women in the workforce, as reliable and affordable transport was one of the main reasons many women weren’t able to work. The government also released initiatives to support women working such as Wusool, which provides women with affordable transport to and from work, and the Qurrah initiative which helps women balance work and family life by providing better quality child care services.
The lift of the entertainment ban meant entertainment companies can now enter the Kingdom with cinemas, concerts and festivals. All these increase the disposable income residents spend in the Kingdom on entertainment and therefore increase revenue. The tourist e-visa also increases revenue through the rich culture and history Saudi has to offer.
Privatization deals allowed the government to release the ownership of certain entities or partner with companies in the private sector such as the Saudi Postal Corp, Saudi Grains Organization, Saudi Professional League, 27 airports in the Kingdom, Saline Water Conversion Corp and more. This increased foreign investment opportunities for companies looking to expand into the Kingdom and in turn helped bolster the economy.
The progress that Saudi Arabia has made in the last 5 years alone indicates a promising future for the decade to come. The strategies used to reverse the impact of the oil price crash is projecting their society forward towards the Vision 2030’s 3 guiding pillars; a thriving economy, a vibrant society and an ambitious nation.