Thursday, October 22, 2020

Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030: Can Saudi Arabia afford it?

MBS's multi-trillion-dollar project was supposed to be a catalyst for social and economic reform. But Covid-19 and an oil price crash have thrown its future into doubt

Middle East Eye: “All success stories start with a vision” was blazoned across huge posters of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in Seoul last year when Mohammed bin Salman made his first state visit to South Korea.

The slogan appears to have been directly lifted from a Saudi media consultant “applauding” the announcement of Vision 2030 by Mohammed bin Salman in 2016 to the Arab News, “to lead us to a bright future”.

But as the Vision plan starts its fifth year - and with a decade to go - the kingdom is reeling from the dual shocks of low oil prices and the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Vision 2030?

When the Vision was announced to much fanfare by the then-deputy crown prince, figures were thrown around of $1tn to be invested in mega projects, and another $1tn to be attracted in foreign investment. The Public Investment Fund’s (PIF) assets would reach $2tn by 2030, it was predicted.

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