Is Vision 2030 Propaganda or Truth?
21 April 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Commenting on the media coverage of Saudi Arabia's ''Vision 2030'' and the
promises and activities associated with it, some have described it as the
largest promotional marketing operation in the history of the region.
It is natural that advertising for the vision is accompanied with advertising
against it. It is also natural that there is scepticism about plans for
development in the region because it has failed to produce a new Singapore or
Malaysia apart from the UAE's experience and to a lesser extent Jordan's.
However, the Saudi project is very ambitious and large and cannot be compared
to the UAE or Jordan. It is faced by threats that are clear for everyone to
see and it is not surprising that some people are frustrated and sceptical on
the one hand and optimistic and excited on the other.
Personally, I think that the ideas are great and achievable. I, like many
others, am worried about the mountain of difficulties that Saudi Arabia will
face on the way to implementation. However, Saudi Arabia and many countries in
the region have the abilities and natural and man-made resources to overcome
Everything that the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced is
reasonable and logical, and can be implemented whenever the administration,
will and determination is found. He has ignited hope and enthusiasm with what
he spoke about.
Is this propaganda?
I cannot imagine anyone working in the field of public relations advising any
politician to present a project that contains promises and dates to their
citizens for propaganda purposes. The vision is detailed, has open commitments
and is documented.
In any case, the countries of the region including Saudi Arabia do not have
any choice except to rectify their conditions and legislative and executive
concepts. They must also review the way they operate and look for means of
development that achieve more than the minimum for their citizens. Today's
citizens know more than the people of yesteryear because they travel outside
of their home countries. They compare their countries to others, ask questions
and are more demanding even if they do not have the chance to elect their
What we heard from Prince Mohammed bin Salman is an ambitious project based on
the philosophy, ideas and promises that represent his new vision for Saudi
Arabia; transforming the country into one that has a real economy whose
pillars are solid and viable rather than an oil-dependent one.
The recent price shock awakened us more than its predecessors. Today we are
alone without senior international allies. We also find ourselves in a
volatile area that is plagued by wars.
The difference between this shock and the previous periods of low prices is
that this is the first time that prices may not rise above $50, let alone the
dream of $120. The number of competing producers has increased, the cost of
shale oil has decreased and electric cars have become popular.
Even if the price of oil rose to what we saw in the glorious golden days, the
number of Saudis has increased at an alarming rate. Their needs are growing
and have become larger than what oil revenues can provide. Today, Saudi Arabia
has a population of 24 million. According to the United Nations' predictions,
its population at the end of the plan in 2030 will be 40 million. Without a
development project like this that does not solely depend on oil, the
government will be unable to meet even the most basic expectations of its
Finally, I will echo what the holder of the ''vision'' said himself; why do we
think about simple expectations like securing jobs, schools and treatment
only? Why are our ambitions not bigger than that so that we can raise our
status as a developed country? This is not impossible and it is our choice to
move forward. I believe that the success of a country like Saudi Arabia is the
success of all. It will act like a train that pulls the rest of the Arab
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.