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Saudi Arabia, long accustomed to any reforms progressing at a snail’s pace, has approved a radical plan to restructure its economy to bring about greater diversification and transparency. At the heart lies oil giant Saudi Aramco, of which the kingdom plans to privatize up to 5% in what would be the largest IPO in history.
The extent of the ambitions are unquestionable, but is such a wide ranging and swift shakeup really feasible? Can the social bargain upon which the kingdom’s governance system rests survive it?
The new strategy, Saudi Vision 2030, was unveiled by Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman on 25 April in a cabinet meeting chaired by King Salman, who announced its endorsement. Saudi Vision 2030 is the brain child of Prince Muhammad, who has assumed control of the oil and overall economic strategy, and is a roadmap for structural change in the next 15 years designed to end the kingdom’s “addiction to oil.”
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