Saudi’s Vision 2030 And Its Impact – Modern Diplomacy

Saudi Arabia is a major oil producing country in the world with enormous quantity of oil reservoirs in Dammam field. In the past decades, this privilege had completely converted Saudi Arabia’s economy on petroleum basis, account 90% of countries export, 75% of country revenue and 40% of Gross Domestic Product. By today, Saudi Arabia produces roughly 16.2% of the world’s total fuel production.
At the beginning of 2010, different institutes and organizations started predicting that these oil reservoirs will not be lasting forever. If the necessary alternatives were not explored, the shortage of petroleum can leave Saudi Arabia in the historic crises. The major reason for the huge decline in reservoirs was the use of heavy machineries and modern technology, enabling limitless quantity of fuel extraction without any check and balance. 
The precaution of this alarm took many years to come from a group level to the state level analysis. In 2016, Mohammad bin Suleiman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia at that time, had announced a project on April 2016 under the Council of Economic and Development Affairs namely ‘Vision 2030’. The major and foremost objective of this vision was to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy beyond oil to maintain minimum reliance over petro-economy. In this regard, exploring different areas such as tourism, business, trade and manufacturing are on the list. The necessity of these reforms was felt more in the Covid-19 pandemic when the oil prices went in the negative.
During this pandemic, the oil margins or profit touched the negative of the values. Saudi’s Government too witnessed this tough time. The abandoning of pilgrimage is another major factor for the decline in Saudi’s economy which although has now been revived. In this regards and for the future, a diversified economy is inevitable for the continued progress of the Kingdom.
However, diversifying the economy is easier said than done. It’s means revolution which as defines Guevara as “not an apple that falls when it ripe. You have to make it fall.” The shocks that the country will gain in this conversion can be worst if not controlled. In these years, petroleum has become a cycling wheel for the country. Different trade, transport, businesses and even many non-state multinational corporations are associated with this cycle.
The ‘Vision 2030’ has three main objectives.
A thriving Economy – The Saudi Arabia has made certain plans and programs to divert and prosper its economy. This includes focusing the business, trade and tourism sectors.
The Saudi Arabia rises himself in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training TVET from 86th position in 2019 to the 12th position in 2021 according to the report by the United Nation Development Program. This provides equity and better approach for poor ones to thrive in the changing surroundings.
Saudi Arabia has reached at 7th place worldwide in the ‘Government Spending Efficiency’ index issue by The World Economic Forum. It Increases the contribution of small and medium size enterprises to the GDP from 20% in 2016 to 32% in 2021.   
The Saudi Arabia has reduced the processing time of the visa from 15 days to 4-5 working days. Tourism is the key element of the country to encourage its image on the international level. This step can be a key element in motivating tourism in Saudi Arabia.     
An Ambitious Nation – The digital currency, hybrid and cyber warfare and nuclear powers are all the future of the international relations. Many steps had taken by the Saudi Kingdom in accordance to meet these technologies.
Saudi Arabia launched The Citizens Account Program on 1st February 2017. The main aim of this program is to ease the impact of reforms on Saudi population. The gradual increase can be seen in this from 2017 to 2021.
The Saudi Kingdom planted 33 desalination plants in 17 area runs by the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC). This organization had completed 69% of the country desalination and 20% of the world desalination. Salinity is a major problem that Saudi Arabia overcome and become the largest producer of desalinated water in the world.     
A Vibrant Society – The vibrant and independent society in the key element for the stable and effective government. Saudi Kingdom considering this factor promoted the civil needs and happiness.
From 2019 to 2021, Saudi Arabia has organized more than 2000 events including 1750 for entertainment purposed, 50 sports and 56 cultural events attended by more than 46 million visitors.
According to the recent country rating of WorldoMeter on life expectancies, Saudi Arabia has reached to the 86th position in the world having 75.69 life expectancies.
The Saudi Arabia Budget  witnessed the intention of the government. They had greatly decreased the spending on the oil. The main reason told by the Saudi Arabia government for this is because of the Covid-19 pandemic in which the oil prices had put them in the great losses. Thus, the budget means to spend more on the other sectors that are ignored till.   
Seeing 2030 is like a revolutionary Saudi Arabia. The one of the key elements of Monarchy is the economy. The more you can feed the nation the more you can get the support and power from the nation. Seeing this in 2030 can be a good or bad perspective for the whole Muslim World.
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Just in case there were any doubts, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu demonstrated with his visit to Lebanon this week that improved relations between Middle Eastern rivals would not bury hatchets.
On the contrary, improved relations shifts the battlefield away from potential armed conflict, allowing rivals to compete while enjoying the benefits of trade and economic cooperation as well as lines of communication that help prevent disputes and conflicts from spinning out of control.
With his visit, Mr. Cavusoglu was stepping into a breach. He sought to fill a vacuum after Turkey’s geopolitical and religious soft power rivals, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, together with Bahrain and Kuwait, imposed an economic boycott on Lebanon and withdrew their ambassadors from Beirut.
A one-time middle-income country, Lebanon is teetering on the brink of collapse due to endemic corruption and an elite willing to protect its vested interests at whatever cost. As a result, the United Nations estimates that three-quarters of the population have descended into poverty.
Aggravating Lebanon’s predicament, the boycott intends to loosen the grip on the country of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militia and political party, which has become part of the elite. A Hezbollah protest in October, demanding the replacement of a judge investigating last year’s devastating Beirut port explosion that killed more than 200 people, descended into sectarian violence reminiscent of Lebanon’s 15-year long civil war in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mr. Cavusoglu travelled to Beirut in advance of a one-day UAE-Turkey business forum in Istanbul and a visit by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the first in 12 years. Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu met in Rome with his UAE counterpart, Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, days after the Beirut visit on the sidelines of the Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.
Turkey and the UAE have been at loggerheads because of Turkish allegations that the Emirates had funded a failed 2016 military attempt to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Emirati objections to Turkish support for political Islam, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey and the UAE have fought military and/or political proxy battles in Libya, Syria, the Eastern Mediterranean, and France, where they were on opposite sides of the divide. Moreover, Turkey supported Qatar and expanded its military presence in the Gulf state during the 3.5 year-long UAE-Saudi-led diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar that was lifted in January.
Similarly, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been seeking to tone down their differences with Turkey at a time of uncertainty over the United States’ security commitments in the Middle East and the need of all Middle Eastern states to focus on some combination of economic reform, diversification, and expansion as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the demands of climate change.
Against that backdrop, Mr. Cavusoglu travelled to Tehran a day before arriving in Beirut. In Tehran, he sought to bolster his position as a potential mediator in Lebanon, manage Turkish-Iranian tensions in the Caucasus along the Azerbaijani-Iranian border, and find some common ground in Syria where the two countries are also at odds.
“If there is anything that can be done for the issue (in Lebanon) to be resolved as soon as possible, we are ready to carry it out, ” Mr. Cavusoglu said.
Despite improving relations between Turkey, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, it was unlikely that the Gulf states would loosen their stranglehold on Lebanon or that they would trust Turkey to be an acceptable and unbiased mediator.
At the same time, Turkey appeared to be further drawing regional battle lines not only with Saudi Arabia and the UAE but also Southeast European states as well as Russia and Iran, with which it simultaneously competes and cooperates.
It did so in a gathering in Istanbul last week of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States. The council groups Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, Turkic-speaking states in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Turkmenistan, the only other Turkic-speaking nation, and Hungary have observer status.
The Istanbul gathering restricted membership and observer status to Turkic-speaking countries. The decision bars not only other Southeast European countries from associating themselves with the council but also Iran, where Azeris, the country’s largest ethnic minority, account for 15 per cent of the population, and Russia with its Turkic minorities.
Add to all of this the diplomatic impact of last week’s arrest on espionage charges and the subsequent release of an Israeli tourist couple for taking pictures of Istanbul’s Dolmabahce Palace, one of the city’s major tourism attractions. The palace on the shores of the Bosporus served as the administrative headquarters of Ottoman sultans in the 19th century and the place of death in 1938 of Kemal Mustafa Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
The couple’s release prompted the first phone call between Mr. Erdogan and top Israeli leaders in nine years, with President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett phoning the Turkish president separately to thank him. Israel has until now cold-shouldered Turkish efforts to improve long-strained relations between the two countries.
Beyond the fact that Mr. Erdogan does not want the incident to scare off badly needed tourists at a time of severe economic crisis, it also provided an opportunity to break through to Israel and reduce the UAE’s geopolitical advantage in maintaining close ties to the Jewish state. Mr. Erdogan expects the Turkish move to be reciprocated. That is precisely what Israeli conservatives fear.
“Ankara’s accusations of ‘espionage’ and apparent threats to raise the price for the detainees show that it was using hostage diplomacy involving innocent tourists. This is how Hamas, which is backed by Ankara’s ruling party, has also behaved… Normal regimes don’t detain innocent people,” thundered Seth J. Frantzman, the right-wing Jerusalem Post’s Middle East correspondent.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has tamed his kingdom’s ultra-conservative religious establishment and made hyper-nationalism rather than religion a pillar of a new 21st century Saudi identity.
But the first beneficiaries of a recent decree to give citizenship to high-end achievers in law, medicine, science, technology, culture, and sports suggests that Prince Mohammed, in contrast to the kingdom’s main competitors seeking to attract foreign talent that include the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Singapore, sees religion as an equally important realm of competition.
The fact that approximately one-quarter of the 27 new citizens are Sunni as well as Shiite religious figures, some of whom are not resident in Saudi Arabia, telegraphs the significance that Prince Mohammed attributes to the religious soft power rivalry between Middle Eastern and Asian Muslim-majority states as well as a powerful Indonesian civil society movement.
The newly minted citizens include former Bosnian grand mufti Mustafa Ceric; Hussein Daoudi, a Muslim community leader in Sweden; Lebanese Shiite scholar Mohammed al-Husseini known for his hostility towards Iran and advocacy of relations with Israel; Mohammad Nimr El Sammak, secretary-general of Lebanon’s National Islamic Christian Committee for Dialogue; and Lebanese Islam scholar Radwan Nayef al-Sayed.
The bulk of the new citizens are prominent medical doctors and researchers, scientists, engineers, and historians. The religious scholars, with exception of Mr. Al-Husseini, were either signatories of the 2020 Mecca Declaration that called for cultural and religious tolerance and understanding and/or members of the supreme council of the Muslim World League.
Prince Mohammed has turned the League that was until 2015 a prime vehicle for the global spread of Wahhabism, the kingdom’s strand of ultra-conservative Sunni Islam, into his main tool for spreading a message of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue.
It is a message that has translated into the infrastructural and economic development of disadvantaged Shiite areas of Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province and the appointment of Shiites as CEOs of key companies, including Aramco, the state-owned oil company.
It has not translated into allowing Shiites or anyone else in the kingdom to express themselves freely or criticise the crown prince or government policy. Nor has it prompted the government to allow non-Muslim worship in public or the construction of non-Muslim houses of worship.
The naturalisation of Lebanese and Bosnian religious figures came at a moment when both countries are in crisis.
Saudi Arabia is leading a boycott of corruption-riddled and bankrupt Lebanon in a bid to break the hold of Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia, on the country. The boycott has further pushed the one-time middle-income nation towards an abyss with more than half of its population reduced to living below the poverty line.
Bosnia is similarly balancing on the edge of a cliff with Bosnian Serbs threatening to blow the federation of Muslims, Croats, and Serbs apart.
Saudi Arabia is the latest state to announce citizenship or permanent resident programmes designed to attract global talent. Qatar became in 2018 the first Gulf state to do so, followed by Singapore in November of last year and the UAE in January.
Various states like the UAE and Qatar had earlier real-estate driven programmes while Qatar also has a record of granting foreign athletes citizenship to shore up its performance in international tournaments.
Saudi Arabia, in a gimmick that sparked discussion as well as mockery, granted in 2017 citizenship to Sophia, a robot with the form of a woman. Mimicking a human, Sophia told a high-brow investor conference that it was honoured to be the first robot to acquire Saudi nationality.
The symbolism of the gimmick was reinforced by the fact that the robot despite mimicking a woman did not wear a headcover or a garb that covered the shape of its body. Dress codes for women had at the time yet to be significantly liberalissed.
The UAE has taken the lead in liberalising socially in its effort to remain attractive to expatriates, enable it to counter Saudi efforts to force companies that want to do business with the Saudi government to headquarter in the kingdom rather than Dubai and project the country as a beacon of moderation.
Racing ahead of the kingdom, the UAE has in the past year laid out plans that give residents the time to look for a new job if they become unemployed rather than force them to leave the country immediately, allow parents to sponsor their children’s visas until the age of 25, and ease visa restrictions on freelancers, widows, and divorcees.
The Emirates further ended lenient punishments for “honour” killings, lifted a ban on unmarried couples living together and decriminalised alcohol. It also reformed personal laws to enable foreigners living in the Gulf state to follow their home country’s laws on divorce and inheritance, rather than being forced to adhere to Emirati legislation that is based on Islamic law.
Saudi Arabia has yet to adopt similar reforms. In the meantime, the government hopes to strongarm companies by warning that it will not grant contracts to businesses that have failed to move their regional headquarters to the kingdom by 2024.
More than 40 companies are expected to move to Riyadh within the coming year, according to Fahd al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City. Mr. Al-Rasheed hopes to have attracted 480 companies by 2030. Saudi officials are reportedly attempting to persuade some 7,000 foreign companies to set up shop in the kingdom.
The competition for foreign talent raises potentially explosive demographic issues, particularly in Gulf states with a citizen deficit where more than half of the population is made up of non-nationals. To some degree, the Gulf states’ efforts to attract foreign talent addresses questions raised several years ago by Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, an erudite Emirati intellectual and art expert, at a time that discussion of the subject was taboo.
Little surprise that Mr. Al-Qassemi sparked controversy by advocating a rethinking of restrictive Emirati citizenship policies that were likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate long-term problems associated with the demographic deficit. Echoing a sentiment that was gaining traction among internet-savvy youth, Mr. Al-Qassemi noted that foreigners with no rights had, over decades, contributed to the UAE’s success.
“Perhaps it is time to consider a path to citizenship for them that will open the door to entrepreneurs, scientists, academics and other hardworking individuals who have come to support and care for the country as though it was their own,” he argued.
By the same token, controversy erupted when Qatar granted 23 athletes from 17 countries citizenship in advance of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. They constituted the majority of the Gulf state’s 39-member team that won Qatar’s first-ever gold medal. It was a debate that made clear to Qataris that there were no easy solutions to a demographic deficit that could prove unsustainable in the long term.
Qataris worried that naturalised citizens could upset their carefully constructed apple cart. Qatari identity was given a boost when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt declared a diplomatic and economic boycott of the Gulf state that was lifted early this year.
“Even so we have a problem,” said a Qatari businessman. “Handing out citizenship will only make things more difficult.”
One group whose citizenship ship claims should be relatively easily resolved are the Bidoon or Without in Kuwait and some other Gulf states. A stateless nomadic minority that failed to register for citizenship at the time of independence, the Bidoon are denied access to public services and often exist in relative poverty.
A student using the handle @_Itsaja_ on Twitter said she and other students had been expelled last Sunday from Kuwait’s Al-Jahra High School when it was discovered that they were Bidoon. Several students sent almost identical tweets.
“I am a student in my last year of science, I study in the evening, I got 98% last year, and today I am expelled because I am from #البدون (#TheBidoon) even though all the required documents are complete.,” tweeted Adin Shamseddin echoing the exact words tweeted by others.
Scaring scenario is developing in the Middle East. Senior Israeli defense officials say the country is preparing for the possibility of an armed conflict with regional arch-rival Iran and its proxies. Israeli army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, said Tuesday that the Israeli military was “speeding up the operational plans and readiness for dealing with Iran and the military nuclear threat.”
Israel is the only Jewish state created in the heart of the Muslim world and surrounding Muslim nations all around it. Israel is the only nuclear state in this part of the world and in the habit of invading and grabbing Arab land. Israel does not wish that any country around it should gain nuclear technology or develop nuclear technology. Israel can not afford to have any competitor in the whole region.
Israel considers Iran an existential threat and has warned that it would act with military force if needed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Last month Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that “if a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act.”
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran is set to renew nuclear talks with world powers this month, after the 2015 accord to curb its nuclear program collapsed following the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018.
Addressing lawmakers at a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Kohavi said the military “continued to act against our enemies in covert operations and missions around the Middle East” during the past year.
His remarks came following a string of reported Israeli airstrikes in Syria. Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on Iran-linked military targets in neighboring Syria in the past decade but rarely acknowledges its operations.
It has been said that Iran’s presence near its northern frontier is a red line and that it targets arms shipments bound for Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iran-linked facilities in Syria.
Speaking during a visit to a defense industry factory in the northern city of Shlomi, near the Lebanese border, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel was “working all the time to prevent war – carrying out operations, conveying messages, preventing (a military) build-up.”
In the event of war, he said, “we will be prepared to execute operations that haven’t been seen in the past, with means that weren’t in our hands in the past, that will harm the heart of terror and its abilities.”
On the other hand, Iran is also well prepared to respond to any aggression from any country. During the Trump administration, the U.S. killed the top Iranian General Qasmi in Iraq, which was well retaliated by Iran in a very appropriate manner. Retaliation of any aggression is the legitimate right of Iran.
Scared, if Isreal opts for any misadventure, the Iranian response may become even worse. The whole region may be pushed to war. It may not be a limited strike but may spread across the entire region, engulfing many nations in the area as well as globally.
Middle-East is a region supplying Oil to the rest of the world. Any disturbance in the area will ultimately create hype in the oil prices, which is already relatively high. Europe, Japan, and China depend on Oil from the Middle East. Instability in the region will affect their economies adversely.
Unfortunately, it is unfair that an illegitimate nuclear state is warning another country to attack if it suspects nuclear activities. Isreal is a country, defaulter of U.N. resolutions and ignored U.N. supremacy or the rule of law.
Recently, Israel has been gaining recognition from a few oil-rich Arab rulers, who are not democratically elected or representing the public. The rulers may recognize the state of Israel, but public opinion is instead the opposite. In case of war, most of the Arab world, especially the public, may not support their government to stand with Israel. Anti-Isreal sentiments are on the rise.
Also, Russia and China have a deep interest in Iran and may not allow the U.S. to involve freely in Iran. The revival of Russia and the rise of China is counter-balance power in geopolitics. The U.S. is no longer a unique supper power in the unipolar world. The U.S. has to think twice before deciding to be involved in Iran–Israel conflict.
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