Washington- A great number of economic analysts and officials in international companies and U.S. research centers praised the ambitious plan that was revealed by Saudi Arabia for 2030. They pointed out that it is not only based on ambitions, but also on a group of executive procedures; proving that it can be implemented, achieving economic diversity and attracting international investments.
The Washington-based International Monetary Fund said the Saudi agenda was “ambitious” and “far-reaching,” although the agency warned it would be difficult to implement the plan.
Masood Ahmed, International Monetary Fund director for the Middle East and Central Asia, said the plan’s objective of diversifying the economy away from oil is “exactly the kind of transformation that an economy as that of Saudi Arabia needs.”
“I think the real issue is going to be how to make sure that these very sensible and ambitious objectives can be translated into real changes,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“I think it is the right approach in the sense of the level of ambition and also in terms of the comprehensive scope because, really, Saudi Arabia’s economy is facing major challenges.”
“They’ve got budget deficits that are going to be unsustainable at current and projected oil prices and they have a growth model primarily driven by oil, so diversifying the economy and trying to balance the budget are the right objectives.”
For his part, the Executive Director for Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Steve Lutes confirmed that this new plan to diversify Saudi economy provides many opportunities for U.S. companies.
He said in exclusive statements for Asharq Al-Awsat that the United States and Saudi Arabia have been committed to long-term relations and that investment and trade are major foundations of these relations.
Lutes added, “The Kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy and adopt a plan to put its future in the right track is motivating; thus the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will work on raising awareness among U.S. companies seeking new investment opportunities, and pushing them forward to start new projects in Saudi Arabia by defining plans and new trade and investment trends.”
The Executive Director for Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also said that the chamber is still committed to reinforce and expand economic relations between the USA and major countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, in order to create job opportunities, push growth rates upward and achieve stability and nourishment.
In this matter, Professor at Texas A&M University, Gregory Gause, said: “Shifting from an oil-based economy to something different is very difficult.”
“The Saudis have been talking about it for decades, but have made little progress. So Prince Mohammed bin Salman has his work cut out for him.”
He added that what makes this plan effective is that it contains executive procedures based on the geopolitical, economic and political changes the world is facing nowadays.
It is clear that whoever put this plan has studied carefully the Hydrocarbon Energy sector.
Gause noted that even if Saudi Arabia succeeded in implementing part of this ambitious plan, it will protect the economy from being affected by external threats because the future always carries positive and negative surprises.
This plan, according to Gause, acts as a shell to protect the country and provide it with new sources for its budget.
He also considered it a chance to embrace millions of Saudi youth, who studied abroad and gained diverse experiences and skills, which their country need to implement this plan. Moreover, Gause hoped that oil-producing countries would follow the lead of Saudi Arabia and diversify their economy. He also called on other countries to
provide skills required in the labor force in order to accommodate changes expected within the coming 15 years.