RIYADH - FEBRUARY 29: Aerial view of Riyadh downtown on February 29, 2016 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
This week marked a milestone in Saudi Arabia's transformation. Five years after Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salmane launched the Vision 2030 reform plan, aimed at transforming the country into a modern, globally flourishing nation, we sit down to take stock of the concrete strides the still-young kingdom has made in five years. So here are five things you may not have known about the "new" Saudi Arabia.
1 – Women’s empowerment and workforce participation
Women in the country are now much more involved in the workforce.
There are 51,000 women among the 74,000 Saudis who joined the labor market in 2020. Women can now enter more professions, such as the notary’s office or the army, and their percentage of participation in the national workforce has increased from 19% to 33% in the space of three years. A trend that should accelerate even more in the years to come, with the evolution of mentalities.
2 – Tourism open to all
Saudi Arabia is currently seeking to diversify its economy and develop its territory, which is rich in no less than 354 archaeological sites and magnificent natural parks. We had the chance to take advantage of it and to share our experience with you in this logbook. In addition, huge projects are underway for the development of the coastline along the Red Sea, in order to attract a wide range of tourist profiles. In order to do so, the country has made it possible to obtain visas, which used to be tedious, in a few clicks. Our advice? As soon as the coronavirus will have been defeated, all to your backpacks, because the landscapes are worth the detour.
3 – The environment at the heart of development
Recently, the country has unveiled its green initiatives plan to support a sustainable development. To speak very concretely, let’s focus on the numbers: Saudi Arabia plans to plant 10 billion trees (50 in total throughout the Middle East), eliminate 130 million tons of carbon emissions, and produce 50% of its electricity from renewable energy (solar, wind, hydrogen, and ammonia are all solutions on which the country wants to rely) by 2030.
4 – Happiness as a pillar
Saudi Arabia has placed happiness and quality of life at the center of its concerns. It has been ranked 1st in the Arab world and 21st in the world in the World Happiness Index in 2021, scoring well in various indicators such as GDP, social welfare, and average life expectancy.
5 – Being less reliant on oil
The ultimate goal of becoming less dependent on oil is well on its way to being achieved.
The share of non-oil GDP is growing every year, and non-oil revenues have also increased significantly – more than doubling – from €32 billion in 2015 to over €81 billion last year.
It should be noted that these are only “selected pieces”, intended to illustrate the dynamics of the country, and help us to measure the path taken by it. However, it should be noted that the country is improving in many other areas, such as access to health care, access to home ownership, and the public and private investment budget.