How diversified is the Saudi Arabian economy

Saudi Arabia: Government focuses on diversification

Jeddah - The Saudi Arabian cabinet approved an ambitious plan for restructuring the economy on Tuesday night. The reform project aims to reduce the kingdom's dependence on the oil sector, curb government spending and stimulate the private sector.

To this end, the government wants to invest the equivalent of around 63 billion euros over the next five years, said the minister responsible, Mohammed al-Shaikh, after the cabinet decision in Jeddah. The driving force behind the so-called National Transformation Program 2020 (NTP) is the 30-year-old Vice Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who presented the main features of the reform project in April.

The cabinet decision of Tuesday is supposed to get 543 individual initiatives going, in the implementation of which 24 state authorities are to be involved. Government spending is to fall by 40 percent by 2020, and around 450,000 new jobs outside the public sector are to be created by then.

Population boom

Saudi Arabia is facing falling oil revenues and a rapidly growing population, more than half of which are under 25 years of age. Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih announced on Tuesday the construction of several industrial cities, in which 150,000 new jobs are to be created. In addition, a large shipyard complex is to be built that will provide work for 80,000 people. Revenues from non-oil-related exports are expected to almost double by 2013.

Oil funds still make up a large part of government revenue. However, income has fallen by half since 2014. In order to finance the ambitious diversification of the economy, the government wants to bring a small part of the state oil giant Aramco to the stock exchange. She plans to set up a state investment fund, which would be the largest in the world with deposits of just under 1.8 trillion euros. (APA, 7 June 2016)