In today’s Leaders in Construction KSA Summit in Riyadh, representatives of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” are to give public updates on the status of various economic development and infrastructure “giga” projects.
Vision 2030 is an ambitious project being undertaken by the Kingdom to reduce its dependence on oil by reforming the private sector with an $800 billion infrastructure and economic diversification program based on tourism and luxury and financial services. Even before the 2020 oil demand shock, volatile oil prices had reduced government revenue from $320 billion in 2013 to $133 billion in 2016, forcing the Kingdom to operate at a deficit. Though the construction of Vision 2030’s centrepiece, the $500 billion “ smart city” economic development zone, has started, a separate $200 billion solar energy diversification joint-venture with Japan’s SoftBank has fallen through entirely.
The pandemic’s disruption of the global economy has rendered an uncertain future for Saudi economic diversification. As the effect of the 2020 oil demand shock on Saudi finances is yet to be fully understood, it is uncertain whether Riyadh will be able to finish building Neom city by 2030. Given these factors—as well as rising tensions with Iran and the continuing international blowback over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—Saudi Arabia’s appeal for international investors seems increasingly in question.
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An international finance and strategy professional, Niko serves on the Current Developments Team with a focus on global business and policy trends in order to understand the key drivers of international investment. Niko's specific interests are in energy, emerging and frontier markets, and trade policy; he contributes regularly to the Daily Brief