Saudi Arabia’s Transformation Plan Already Running Out of Time

Saudi’s freshly released National Transformation Program contains ambitious and wide-ranging objectives to reform the kingdom’s economy. But time is already running out if the kingdom is to come close to hitting its 2020 targets.

Saudi Arabia this week unveiled its National Transformation Program 2020 (NTP), the ambitious blueprint to achieve its Vision 2030 unveiled in April that has the private sector at its heart. This is intended to wean the Saudi economy off its addiction to oil and prepare the ground for post-oil diversification (MEES, 29 April). But, while the NTP contains numerous metrics with measurable targets (see table, p16-17 for some selected highlights), there remains an absence of information on how these are to be achieved.

The plan contains plenty of attention-grabbing details, such as more than tripling non-oil revenue from SR163.5bn ($43.6bn) in 2015 to SR530bn ($141bn) in 2020. But arguably the less eye-catching details in the report are the most important. Plans to increase the education and skills of Saudi citizens are not going to generate much excitement, but without these, headline plans to boost the role of the private sector and develop the non-oil sectors will struggle to gain traction.


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