What is Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030?

What is Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030?

Saudi Arabia has a grand plan to transform the entire economy by 2030.

The Kingdom has pumped billions into everything from entertainment, tourism and sports on an international spending spree to diversify itself beyond oil dependence.

Vision 2030 is led by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, 38, who aims to reinvent the Kingdom and put it on the global stage.

But the reform has not been without controversy.

What is Saudi's Vision 2030?

Their said aim is to create a "vibrant society" that allows "all citizens to thrive and pursue their passions," according to the official website.

It also details plans to build a thriving economy by supporting all businesses and investing in education "for the jobs of the future."

The third pillar of plans is to build an "ambitious nation," including an "effective, transparent, accountable, empowering and high-performing" government.

Alongside this, Saudi has ambitious goals to:

  • Increase life expectancy from 74 to 80 years old
  • Raise Saudi's Social Capital Index from 26th to 10th
  • Rank three Saudi cities among the top 100 globally
  • Increase the population's exercise from 13 per cent to 40 per cent
  • Increase household spending on local cultural and entertainment activities to 6 per cent
  • Double the number of Saudi properties on the UNESCO World Heritage list
  • Increase the annual capacity to welcome Umrah visitors from 6.2 million to 30 million

Why sports?

Saudi has put its print on most things sports-related including football, golf, Formula One, boxing, snooker and horse racing – and it's a part of the Sports for All (SFA) initiative.

Launched in 2018, SFA is a supporting scheme of the Vision 2023 targets for the sports sector.

Saudi's investment in sports is said to also encourage participation among men and women and create a professional elite-level environment for Saudi athletes, national teams and clubs across all sports to thrive.

In one section of its official regulations, the SFA said that 'feminine words' should be used whenever 'masculine' words are used so sport is presented to both genders.

The document, translated from Arabic, reads: "The Ministry is the competent authority in the Kingdom in charge of regulating and developing the sports sector, improving its capabilities, increasing the number of individuals practising sports, and working towards enabling Saudi sports to achieve excellence locally and internationally, as well as supervising all sports activities."

Why has it sparked backlash?

Some have argued that Vision 2030 has been prioritised over human rights.

Saudi Arabia sparked outrage when Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the country's consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi authorities ended investigations in 2019 when eight people were convicted in a closed trial "which lacked credibility, with the trial proceedings denounced by Amnesty as a 'whitewash.'"

Critics of Vision 2030 have accused Saudi of sportswashing its reputation following a history of human rights abuses.

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