RIYADH: The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is very ambitious and clear cut road-map for the overall development in the Kingdom by transformation with a focused program for sustainable development, said expert panelists comprising foreign ambassadors and Saudi authorities at the Arab News dialogue that took place in Riyadh last Wednesday under the title “Vision 2030 — A plan for sustainable development.”The dialogue is a pioneering initiative by Arab News Editor in Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi with the sole objective of increasing interaction of the region’s leading English newspaper with decision-makers in various sectors in the Kingdom including diplomats and scholars.Opening the dialogue, Al-Harthi welcomed the guests to the brainstorming session at the headquarters of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG), the parent company of Arab News.Al-Harthi, who also chaired the session, in his opening remarks highlighted that the media is not just a tool of reporting but it is also mandated to create dialogue and connect with the people, the government and the decision makers.“It has to play a key role in public discourses, create a debate and be part of the dialogue,” he said adding this session is an approach to this end.Formally beginning the dialogue, German Ambassador Dieter W. Haller said that it is a very dynamic vision aiming toward changing the face of the country not only in terms of economic diversification but to make overall transformation as it has a wide agenda to make the Kingdom a vibrant society with strong root in culture, health care, environmental sustainability, grooming younger generation, building a thriving economy with rewarding opportunities providing equal opportunities to all leading the country into the right direction.With this change taking place, every country is looking at the Saudi market with a lot of hope and optimism as it is undergoing a fundamental change from an oil-driven economies to an industrial economy coming up with industrial cities, he added.“The vision is equally important from the perspective of the private sector allowing it more participation, thus striking a balance between the government and the private sector with their very important role in the national transformation as well as creating more space for Public Private Partnership (PPP),” he said.When asked about Germany, having a large number of Fortune 500 companies, can be a major contributor to the national transformation program, the envoy said: “Our experiences from a state-run economy to a country with greater participation of the private sector underwent a tremendous change.”The envoy added: “Now we are doing well with several companies having worldwide impact and we are looking forward to study the whole gamut of the new transformation in the Kingdom and very positive to share our experiences.”Besides the oil resources, he the Kingdom is very rich in mineral resources and petrochemicals. They will play a crucial role in diversifying the Saudi economy.“We have experiences in that and are looking forward to share our strategic expertise,” said the ambassador.Moreover, German and Saudi companies coming into joint ventures can work together in gas and turbine plants as Berlin has expertise in the sector, he noted, while referring to the G20 framework in which Saudi Arabia and Germany are already working together.Germany will hold the G20 summit next year, he pointed out.“Moreover, we are also looking forward to the human resources sector, construction and other key sector”, he said, adding that Germany looks forward to train Saudi youth and educate in this area and help in Saudization program with a rich human resource base.Commenting on energy security, he said that Germany decided to phase out nuclear technology and replace it with very innovative renewable energy. Germany is consistently doing well in diversifying uts energy profile, the envoy said.As Vision 2030 puts emphasis on renewable energy programs in the Kingdom, Germany is looking forward to share its experiences with the Kingdom.Notably, net-generation from renewable energy sources in the German electricity sector has increased from 6.3 percent in 2000 to about 30 percent in 2014 and for the first time ever, wind, bio-gas, and solar combined accounted for a larger portion of net electricity production than brown coal in that year and now the country is getting its power from renewable energy, said the diplomat.Joining him in the discussion, Turkish Ambassador Yunus Demirer observed that the vision document is very important plan toward making Kingdom an investment power house and create a more diverse and sustainable economy.He said: “We are looking forward to it from various perspectives including if there is arbitration problem for an investor, the concerns are taken care well, issues related to litigation based on arbitration are addressed.”He expressed the hope that investors including from his country will be more convinced with private investment flow being promoted by the Kingdom through the National Transformation Program, considerably the phase one of Vision 2030.Demirer said Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been traditionally in partnership — be it under the previous coalition government or under the current majority government and business communities from the two countries have been working in close cooperation.“I am looking forward to further expansion into it under the diversification program,” he noted.He pointed out that Turkey very successfully experienced transformation under the PPP model and Turkey would be happy to share that experience with the Kingdom having a greater role for the private sector now in order to make a balance between the government and private sector, he pointed out.Speaking at the session, Indian Ambassador Ahmad Javed said that Vision 2030 is very forward looking plan and it much more than simply diversifying the Saudi economy or transforming it from the oil driven economy to non-oil revenue generation programs.Vision 2030 has clarity on all spheres of public life to begin a new era of sustainable development, he said.Clarity is good as it brings confidence into the investors and gives confidence to come forward with the investment plan, he added.Looking beyond traditional programs, it aims for economic diversification, talks about health care, education, having a vibrant society with fulfilling lives, promoting culture and entertainment, developing infrastructure with the concept of smart cities, industrial cities, grooming younger generation, empowering society, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).“We are looking at it as a total transformation program,” the Indian envoy said.Ambassador Javed also said that India and Saudi Arabia enjoy very cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties, which have now grown into the Kingdom becoming the fourth largest trading partner for India after China, US and the UAE. “Our people-to-people contact is so extensive with three million strong Indian community living as the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom,” he added.He said that India is looking into ways of sharing its experiences with the Kingdom. India was a mixed economy and moved to public-private partnership, offering a greater role for the private sector.The PPP model was also under discussion, which India successfully experienced. India has much to offer in the fields of technology, health care and other strategic sectors, he added.“Given the huge potential grown up with this vision, I think we can better look forward to share experiences in varied sectors including in defense sector, which I think is the part of the Vision 2030,” he underlined.Responding to a query, the envoy said: “There will be challenges as you are transforming from one system to another but with challenges come opportunities. There is huge clarity in Vision 2030 and that is a tremendous achievement. There will be challenges .. they will be met and will be surmounted.”He said: “The clarity in Vision 2030 is its biggest strength.”The Indian diplomat also said that technology makes a huge difference and the indigenous technology “takes us up on the scale. IT made us powerful in various sectors — be it agriculture, health care, space technology or others.”The ambassador added: “We have our base here like Wipro coming up with the all-women IT park at the Princess Noura University and TCS doing well with the all-women BPO center with the help of Saudi Aramco and GE and we look forward to contribute further and share our experiences by expanding the reach with the Kingdom.”He said that youth empowerment is an important aspect of Vision 2030 and “our cooperation in the ICT sector will be of immense help to the Saudi youth.”South Korean Ambassador Pyung-oh Kwon also shared his thoughts with other diplomats, businessmen and the editorial team,Vision 2030 is comprehensive and ambitious master-plan aiming to build a strong, thriving, and stable Saudi Arabia in the long-run, said the envoy.It will very positively affect the Saudi society, increase job opportunities through investment and expansion work by promising industries, increase women’s economic activities, will further improve citizen’s living conditions with economic diversification.The ambassador, however, observed that strategic execution of the plan is important as the performance depends on how well the Vision 2030 is implemented in the long run and advised the government needs to win investor’s trust through wide-ranging deregulation and streamlining the administrative procedures.He pointed out that Saudization and localization policies should not be seen as obstacles.On sharing experiences, he said the Kingdom and South Korea enjoy very close ties based on complementary requirements. He exuded confidence that bilateral cooperation would widen further in the process of implementation of Vision 2030.He noted that promising areas of cooperation will be health care, SMEs promotion, high-tech manufacturing, e-governance, digital economy, defense.Answering a query, he said the South Korean government and businesses are willing to share their experiences of rapid economic development with the Kingdom looking forward under the ambitious plan.Joining the discussion Imad Al-Abdul Qader, director investor attraction at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, said that SAGIA has a very important role to play in facilitating foreign investments and investors in the plan execution.He also referred to the key roles of Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) seeking to strengthen ideas set under Vision 2030.“I am very excited about Vision 2030 and very positive about the programs to bring transformation in the Kingdom with successful economic diversification,” he added.Answering a question, he said there is no need to convince anyone on Vision 2030 as there is clarity in the plan convincing the people interested in the plan.He that business is not only two-way trade but also two-way investment.“We are looking forward to expecting more investors under the transformation program making Saudi Arabia an investment powerhouse.”He said the foreign investors have options — whether to come as independent investor or set up joint ventures. they are welcome with their decisions and SAGIA at the helm of affairs to help them will do the needful.He said along with the foreign investment Domestic Direct Investment (DDI) is equally important.When asked about their preparedness, he said that domestic investors are very much prepared to handle investment plans, said Imad.“Domestic investors are ready for any foreign investors coming for joint venture as well as go independently to contribute in the transformation program,” he said in response to a query on some foreign MNCs showing interest in joining new program.Usamah M. Kurdi, a prominent businessman and a former Shoura Council member, said Vision 2030 is an overall development plan developing program and the idea to execute the policies for a vibrant society and thriving economy.The first part of the program came up with the National transformation Program (NTP-2020) with emphasis on non-government sector and chamber of commerce to be involved in transformation program suitably to have best possible result.He described SAGIA as the most important player in the program and its successful execution because of the foreign investment.He said: “It was a long pending demand that domestic and foreign investment both should be dealt with by one authority and it finally happened.”The basic vision of the program is to diversify income of the government with economic diversification and better participation of public and private sector.He said public sector auditing was not properly regulated and performances need to be improve further. The PPP model and the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) formula will help improve the situation, he added.Notably, KPI is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives and used to evaluate companies success at reaching targets.Moreover, KPI will also be applied to government employees and it will boost their overall efficiency by giving taining to lazy employees. Those who need additional skills, will be provided proper training to reach expectations as part of the reforms, said the businessmen.Kurdi said that 500,000 government employees will be given proper training under the program.“I am really hoping that these initiatives will bring in refreshing changes to achieve the plan set under Vision 2030,” said Kurdi.He prioritized medical, education and defense sectors for special attention besides information and communications technology, which is important for creating jobs for Saudi nationals.He noted that international experiences are very important for us.“I know there are successes and failures, and we can learn from your success stories,” he told the ambassadors in the panel, and urged upon them to raise awareness about Saudi Arabia in their respective countries as people may have misconceptions about the Kingdom.

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