RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s plans to diversify its economy were welcomed by experts, analysts and people from all walks of life.
Patrick Dennis, lead Middle East economist at Oxford Economics, said, “The challenges are immense in terms of implementing the required fiscal austerity, and implementing diversification into manufacturing, tourism etc.”
Saudi economist Abdulwahab Abu-Dahesh called the plan highly ambitious and said it aims to turn a “welfare oil economy” — where the Kingdom’s oil revenues supported generous social benefits — into one based on managed investments.
“The Vision targets are achievable but we need extremely hard work and patience,” he told AFP.
On Twitter many people praised the plan and in particular Prince Muhammad. “No worries for a nation whose vision is being planned by a man like this,” @alobisan wrote.
Saudi citizen Sultan Tamimi, 27, said “the nation was reborn” by the plan, which showed “ambition and youthful spirit.”
Masood Ahmed, director of the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia department, told CNBC that he welcomed Saudi Arabia’s announcement to diversify its economy away from oil.
“I think it is the right approach in the sense of the level of ambition and also in terms of the comprehensive scope.”
The “Vision 2030” plan, unveiled Monday by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense who is also the chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, aims to transform an economy that has for decades relied mainly on vast oil resources.
At the root of the plan is the sale of less than five percent of state oil giant Saudi Aramco in what officials say will be the largest-ever Initial Public Offering.
Proceeds from the sale will go into creating the world’s biggest government investment fund, with a value of $2 trillion, whose profits can provide an alternative to oil revenues. The wide-ranging plans calls for a slew of other measures, from increasing household spending on entertainment to boosting the domestic defense industry and bringing more women into the workforce.