KT Edit: Reforms make Riyadh competitive, help build its brand

It's a clear signal that the region will continue to be a leading player not just in the energy sector but in others as well.



Published: Mon 28 Jan 2019, 8:08 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Jan 2019, 10:10 PM

Saudi Arabia is clearly in a hurry. Economic reforms have been put on the fast track. The leadership is driving the pace of projects, getting them off the ground and monitoring their completion. Billions of dollars are being spent and there is opportunity for global businesses and talent in the kingdom which is serious about remaking its image on the world stage.
Saudi Arabia, for long regarded as a conservative in all aspects, wants to be an agent of change in the Middle East. And it's putting its oil wealth to good use - investing in people and projects, building infrastructure and buying into global companies. Diversification from its core strengths as an oil icon is the mantra and it seems to be paying off already, though there are risks associated with it, which the kingdom is certain it can surmount. What's visible is a shift in attitude. Laggards have no place in the new, vibrant Saudi Arabia. These changes have been ushered in by its dynamic and young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman popularly known as MBS. The crown prince is shaking things up - he's pushing social changes, empowering women and youth, while opening up the entertainment sector. MBS realises Saudi youth need more opportunities for growth and avenues to express themselves creatively. He is, therefore, creating an ecosystem where their talents can be tapped and efforts rewarded.
To create this ecosystem, the kingdom is seeking 1.6 trillion riyals ($425 billion) by 2030 for infrastructure development. This will also be used for energy, mining and other industrial projects. Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 is taking shape with 70 deals worth $54 billion signed on Monday. Chemicals, power and natural gas will be the focus of this plan. Officials said the kingdom is also set to restructure its power sector by "separating its generation business from transmission and distribution". Aviation, roads and the rail system will also be upgraded. So, what do these reforms mean for the Middle East? It's a clear signal that the region will continue to be a leading player not just in the energy sector but in others as well.
Change is good if managed well. Reforms in the kingdom, while making it competitive, will also help in its rebranding efforts. These are exciting times for the kingdom that is open for business.


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