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King Salman hails Saudi’s ‘renaissance’ in annual speech

King Salman set out how the kingdom plans to "meet the aspirations and ambitions of our people" Saudi Press Agency Twitter
King Salman set out how the kingdom plans to "meet the aspirations and ambitions of our people"
  • The 86-year-old ruler pointed to a $53.2bn investment in infrastructure
  • King praised ‘unique’ developments at AlUla, NEOM and Diriyah
  • Speech also touched on role of women and global oil markets

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a “comprehensive and sustainable renaissance” as it progresses to the second phase of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s ruler has said.

Delivering his annual royal speech on Sunday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said the country aimed to develop “promising and new sectors, support local content, facilitate the business environment, empower citizens, engage the private sector and increase the effectiveness of implementation to achieve more success and progress, and meet the aspirations and ambitions of our people”.

In a wide-ranging address, the 86-year-old king said a number of strategies and programmes, valued at $53.2 billion over the next decade, had been launched.

These were planned to promote infrastructure development in vital sectors, improve the quality of services and establish an infrastructure fund that will “contribute significantly” to transport, water, energy, health, education, communications and digital projects.

As part of this, the National Development Fund aims to stimulate the private sector by pumping in more than $151.2bn and trebling the share of non-oil GDP to $161bn by 2030.

The king highlighted plans including the national strategy for gaming and esports, the human capability development programme, and developing the Asir region with the aim of turning it into a global tourist destination. He also cited the launch of the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank to promote SME growth.

The development at AlUla will “create a historical, cultural, social imprint,” the king said. Picture: Afalula

The king hailed the “unique projects” under construction in the kingdom, including the AlUla Development Project, Diriyah Gate, Qiddiya, Amaala, NEOM City and the Red Sea Project.

He described them as “unrepetitive creative projects that create a historical, cultural, social imprint, and provide a variety of options in accordance with the Vision’s objectives, economically, culturally and socially”.

He added: “The development approach in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to make a comprehensive and sustainable renaissance, whose centre and goal is the human being who will manage the development of the present, and make the development of the future with knowledge.”

The speech came as Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy, is forecast to surpass $1 trillion GDP for the first time.

Its GDP rose by 11.8 percent in the second quarter, according to a flash estimate from the kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics. GASTAT said the year-on-year increase – the most rapid acceleration since the third quarter of 2011 – was driven by a 23 percent rise in oil activity.

Earlier this month, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, hailed the “impressive progress” in implementing the reform agenda of Vision 2030, notably the doubling of the share of women in the labour force in just four years.

This development was also mentioned by the king on Sunday.

“Saudi women have received attention and care to play their role in growth, construction and development by promoting their capabilities and crystallising their role in the social, economic and other fields, leading to the attainment of leadership and high positions in government and private sectors and international organisations,” he said.

On the topic of energy, King Salman said Saudi was striving to “support the stability and balance” of global oil markets, while also “moving at an accelerated pace” to face environmental challenges such as climate change.

A package of initiatives would contribute to reducing carbon emissions by 278 million tons annually by 2030, as well as creating half of its production capacity through renewable energy, he said.

The plans include construction of one of the world’s largest green hydrogen hubs in NEOM and investments worth $187bn to contribute to the development of the green economy in the kingdom and the wider region.

Despite global economic challenges, King Salman said Saudi Arabia had “managed to reduce the effects of inflation, being recorded among the lowest rates in the world”. He hailed the country’s declining unemployment rate, which fell to 9.7 percent in Q2. 

The king also said Saudi Arabia was set to spearhead an “upgrading of our joint Gulf action in a way that strengthens the march of the GCC at all levels”.

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