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Can Saudi Arabia Reshape Itself Before the Clock Runs Out?
이하정   |   2018. 02. 28 17:46   |  
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The Saudi Arabian kingdom, founded in 1932, became the biggest oil exporter by the 1970s. As the biggest oil exporter, the Saudi Arabian economy has largely relied on oil exports, taking up about three-quarters of government revenue. Now, in the modern world, the kingdom and the leaders of its abosulte monarchy have recognized the urgent, and overdue needs to bring change to the nation’s economy. Ambitious to open the post-oil era is the 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Under the leadership of the young and ambitious prince, Saudi Arabia is to see changes not only in daily lives, such as finally permitting women to drive, but also in the kingdom’s economic system.  

The Saudi Arabian kingdom has been labeled as a nation with an oil mono culture almost since the kingdom’s establishment. However, now, the nation is about to bring a drastic change to its economy with a package of reforms for the next few years: Saudi Vision 2030. Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Vision 2030 aims to decrease the country’s reliance on oil and diversify its economy. The need for reforms came under realization when the country’s economy that depends for 80% on oil exports, has been put to test during the global crisis in crude prices in 2015. The event cost the country one hundred billion dollars worth of budget deficit.

Having gone through such events showing that the nation’s lack of economic diversity could harm long-term financial security, Saudi officials and the cabinet have agreed to implement Vision 2030. First, the plan aims to amplify revenues from non-oil sources such as taxes from public services and income from foreigners. Also, Vision 2030 seeks to decrease subsidies on sources such as fuel, water, and electricity, in order to reduce spending. In addition, the plan emphasizes private investment and privatizations. The move towards private sectors is because of the aims to create more jobs and increase women’s participation at the workplace. By encouraging more population besides adult men to become more productive, the Saudi kingdom expects to see an economic growth in non-oil sectors. 

As mentioned above, Vision 2030 plans to increase women’s participation in the workforce. It has an ambitious goal of: “unlocking the talent, potential, and dedication of our young men and women.” However, the highly conservative kingdom denies drastic change, not being too passionate about including women actively in the job market. Some may say that Saudi Arabia is starting to make positive changes in terms of gender equality, considering the fact that the kingdom recently grant driver’s license to women, which certainly is a huge step for such a constrained society. However, it is difficult to judge since Saudi Arabia is still behind some basic things that most modernized nations have installed, such as limited rights for women and both political and economic system. 

In order for Saudi Vision 2030 to succeed, and for the kingdom to escape its oil-reliant economic system, many overdue reforms must be made, and that certainly does not exclude guranteed rights for women. The international society hopes to see Saudi Arabia open the post-oil era, in which basic rights are covered while its religious beliefs are flexibly respected. 



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