“Our ambition is to build a more prosperous country, in which every citizen can find what he wants.” With this strong challenge and serious determination, the architect of bold decisions and ambitious vision, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, spoke about the ambition and will of the Saudis in the pursuit of the Kingdom’s access to the ranks of advanced and developed countries, as well as the accelerated achievements that have begun to bear fruit early.
In a kingdom that derives its youthful spirit from Prince Mohammed bin Salman, one of the biggest developmental leaps has been achieved, through his ambition and his passion, which are the most important catalysts for change and the launch towards a bright future that brings goodness to all.
Diversified and resilient economy
With the support of young forearms, which constitute about 70 percent of the Saudi population, the Crown Prince is moving the Kingdom’s economy to the fore and competing with the most important and strongest global economies, starting from his promising vision for 2030, the foundations of which he laid in April of 2016.
This vision goes beyond dependence on oil, by stimulating manufacturing industries, mining, and services sectors, developing the entertainment sector, and transforming the Kingdom into an investment haven in the region, supported by mega-projects such as Neom, the Red Sea, Amaala on the Red Sea coast, and Qiddiya in Riyadh, in addition to other projects that will transform the Kingdom into a global tourist destination.
Perhaps there are those who remember the days of the difficult economic conditions that the Kingdom went through as a result of the drop in oil prices and what it faced from the downturn, but Mohammed bin Salman was able to deal with them with all transparency to contain the slowdown in growth and its negative impact, and he succeeded in issuing bold decisions, including fiscal consolidation to reduce the then-record-breaking budget deficit.
While he worked on developing the current economic sectors and founded the idea of the initial public offering (IPO) of global oil giant Aramco, which floated its shares in December of 2019 and was the most important and most prominent of his achievements during the past months. Aramco’s IPO coverage succeeded by 4.6 times, and the total number of IPO applications reached more than 446 billion riyals, to be on the throne of the largest IPO in the world. Thus, the Crown Prince’s plan, which he announced on more than one occasion, was realized.
Mohammed bin Salman said in a television interview about the IPO, “Today you have a company that has a very huge value that can keep this company in Saudi Arabia, keep its economic impact in Saudi Arabia, and make it grow in Saudi Arabia while benefiting from its value by stimulating other sectors that are not present in Saudi Arabia. This cash will come from Aramco, and it will help us to seize many opportunities. If Aramco does not launch, it will take 50 years or 40 years to grow the mining sector, and it will take 40 years to develop the local content. It will take many years to develop logistics services, as we wasted 40 years in the past, and we are trying to grow these sectors.”
The Crown Prince’s economic plans include attracting local and foreign investments, enabling the role of the private sector to become the main engine of economic growth, keeping pace with the techniques of the fourth industrial revolution, and reviving exports of the non-oil sector, so that economic activities can return and achieve real and high growth rates, such as wholesale and retail trade activities, restaurants, hotels, financial and insurance services, business services, construction, and real estate.
Parallel to these important achievements, the programs of the Ministry of Housing and the directions and plans of the Crown Prince in this aspect had a fundamental role in raising the percentage of Saudi citizens’ ownership of their homes after the housing and financing options were distributed between loans supported by the Real Estate Development Fund, ready units, or units on the map for self-construction.
All these decisions and others contributed to the Kingdom’s progress in the global competitiveness index, advancing its ranking in the G20 countries, and achieving a positive impact on the Saudi economy.
Homeland security, preparedness and innovation
Since the Crown Prince assumed the position of Minister of Defense, he undertook to develop the structure of the Ministry of Defense and set an ambitious program for that, and he also launched a program to localize military industries, in parallel with the establishment of a Saudi company for military industries, aiming to localize more than 50 percent of these industries by 2030, accompanied by the localization of 40,000 jobs, which is reflected in the degree of military preparedness, meets the needs of the military sector, opens the door for investment in a sustainable sector, and contributes to diversifying sources of income and supporting the GDP.
Since Prince Mohammed bin Salman assumed the position of Minister of Defense, he has been working to enhance the security of the Kingdom and cut off the arms of the Iranian mullah regime in the region, which threatens security and destabilizes the region. To accomplish this, he launched Operation Decisive Storm, with the approval of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, to save legitimacy in Yemen from the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.
The year 2015 witnessed the establishment of the Islamic Coalition to Combat Terrorism, from a group of 44 countries that declared their willingness to participate in defeating terrorists from the Islamic world with all their strength and military, economic and media capabilities.
The historic visit of the Crown Prince to the United States is still remembered and resulted in huge deals and bilateral partnerships worth over $128 billion, as well as the development of aircraft systems and warships with a localization rate of no less than 50 percent.
One of the most important achievements in this aspect was the inauguration of the first Hawk trainer jet last year, which had a number of parts assembled and manufactured locally by the hands of Saudi youth, at King Abdulaziz Air Base in the eastern sector, coming as part of the initiatives of the Saudi-British program for the transfer and localization of technology. More than 70 percent of Saudi youth worked to assemble 22 Hawk aircraft, after they were trained for more than two years by international experts.
Culture breathes creativity
In less than three years, the cultural sector has witnessed a radical change, believing that the young prince is one of the engines of human development, adopting the principle of openness to the world, dialogue and communication with others, and improving the lifestyle while adhering to religious and social constants.
The Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 includes the development of the culture sector and its infrastructure, to become a cultural and economic tributary and an integral part of improving the citizen’s standard of living. This was evident in the separation of culture from the Ministry of Information and the establishment of an independent Ministry of Culture headed by an educated and enlightened man, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, in addition to 11 other cultural bodies. This ensures the highest levels of quality and effectiveness as they seek to achieve the goals of Vision 2030, the most important of which is doubling the registration of archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia in the UNESCO World Heritage List, supporting talented and creative people to express their ideas and aspirations, and enhancing citizen participation in all cultural activities.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman views culture as the most important engine of change and aspires in his vision to establish the largest Islamic museum in the world, asking more than once in one of his television interviews, “Is it reasonable that the Qibla of Muslims that is in Saudi Arabia and the most important Islamic country, and you do not own an Islamic museum that someone who wants to learn about Islamic culture can visit? This is completely illogical and indicates the scarcity of cultural services that we need in Saudi Arabia.”
The Crown Prince’s interest in culture is exceptional, and this is evident in several dimensions, including his interest in the province of Al-Ula, his inauguration of the vision of Al-Ula to be a global heritage interface, as well as for the historical Diriyah, and his efforts to support Arabic calligraphy, such that the Dar Al-Qalam Center in Medina was named the Prince Mohammed bin Salman International Center for Arabic Calligraphy, which is a recognition of his continuous support for culture and intellectuals.
Saudi Arabia and space
With the noon clock ticking on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, the Saudi Telecom Satellite SGS-1 successfully launched, bearing the signature of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the last piece of it, with the phrase “over the important clouds”, following the announcement of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. It was launched from the French Guiana Space Center on board the Ryan 5 missile.
With this satellite, the Crown Prince will have achieved his saying, “Our ambition is sky high”, as Saudi satellites roam the sky, and Saudi engineers worked on it and developed it, in cooperation with Lockheed Martin, intending to transfer manufacturing expertise and tests for huge satellite technologies dedicated to space communications in constant orbit.
The Crown Prince had signed the last piece of the missile during his visit to San Francisco in the United States, and it is the first satellite communications satellite owned by the Kingdom. It offers multiple applications, including broadband communications, secure communications, and providing communications to semi-remote and stricken areas.
This satellite, which will be operated and controlled by earth stations in the Kingdom, supports the infrastructure of the communications sector and aims to secure high-speed satellite communications as a national strategic plan to meet the Kingdom’s needs and to provide communications services with advanced specifications for use by government sectors, as well as with commercial specifications for the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and large parts of Africa and Central Asia. It aims to develop local capabilities and human resources and provide job opportunities in the space industry.
It was preceded by the launch of two satellites, Saudi Sat 5A and 5B, on December 7, 2018, onboard the Chinese Long March 2D missile from the Jiujuan base in China, as part of a Saudi plan that seeks to localize strategic technologies in the Kingdom, maximize local content, and empower Saudi youth with the familiarity of advanced technologies in the field of developing and manufacturing satellites.
Empowering Saudi women
The Saudi women, in turn, have also been present in the mind of the Crown Prince, who pushed several societal decisions and changes to empower them and obtain their full and undiminished rights, drawing from the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him), and he emphasized these rights on more than one occasion and in several press interviews. The fruit of these efforts was the issuance of a decision to allow women to drive in June 2018, appointing them to leadership positions, and raising the proportion of women in the labor market from 22 percent to 30 percent.
In just three years, dozens of decisions were issued that promote women’s rights, most notably the establishment of the Family Affairs Council, the two systems for combating harassment and protection from abuse, and the allocation of a center for receiving reports of domestic violence, so that women could become partners in the development, building, and prosperity of the nation.
On a parallel line, recent events demonstrated the care that King Salman and his Crown Prince attach to the people of the nation, through directives and orders aimed at preserving their lives and safety in light of the Corona pandemic, and the continuous coordination to evacuate citizens from countries of the world.
Since Mohammed bin Salman assumed the mandate of Crown Prince, he launched a campaign to prosecute corruption, believing that development must be accompanied by reforms, eradicating corruption, and holding the corrupt accountable without exception. This campaign included summoning 381 figures.
The campaign, which was launched in November 2017, was based on the royal order issued by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to form a supreme committee to combat corruption headed by the Crown Prince, which enumerates the violations, crimes, persons, and entities related to public corruption cases. It has the authority to investigate and issue arrest orders and travel bans, as well as take action with those involved in cases of public corruption.
In late January 2018, the Royal Court announced the end of the work of the committee headed by the Crown Prince to combat corruption, after recovering 400 billion riyals from those accused of corruption, which resulted in the recovery of funds to the state treasury, represented in several assets of real estate, companies, securities, cash, and so on.
As a result of this also, citizens of Arab countries still chant the name of Prince Mohammed bin Salman in every forum in which they demand the eradication of corruption, as the Crown Prince did not exclude anyone, in fulfillment of his famous saying, “No one who has entered into a corruption case will survive, whether he is a minister or a prince or whatever.”
Bright present, brilliant future
The most important characteristics of the years in which Prince Mohammed bin Salman assumed his mandate include boldness and seriousness, the feasibility of change, and steps taken at the highest levels aimed at achieving the supremacy of the homeland and its children.
All of these achievements and decisions made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be written on the pages of history with a flush of gold, and Saudi Arabia has begun to reap its fruits and see their impact on the ground, which will place the Kingdom on the threshold of a bright future and establish a strong and developed state that embraces the sky.