Commitments

Our Commitments

A Developed Digital Infrastructure

A sophisticated digital infrastructure is integral to today’s advanced industrial activities. It attracts investors and enhances the fundamental competitiveness of the Saudi economy. We will partner with the private sector to develop the telecommunications and information technology infrastructure, especially high-speed broadband, expanding its coverage and capacity within and around cities and improving its quality. Our specific goal is to exceed 90 percent housing coverage in densely populated cities and 66 percent in other urban zones. We will also develop building standards to facilitate the extension of broadband networks. We will strengthen the governance of digital transformation through a national council. Additionally, we will improve our regulations and establish an effective partnership with telecom operators to better develop this critical infrastructure. We will also support local investments in the telecommunications and information technology sectors.

A Flourishing Retail Sector

Over the past decade, the retail sector achieved an annual growth rate in excess of 10 percent. It currently employs 1.5 million workers, of which only 0.3 million are Saudis. Traditional retail also still dominates 50 percent of the market in the Kingdom compared to 20 percent in a number of countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with our retail market suffering from limited penetration of modern trade and e-commerce. We aim to provide job opportunities for an additional million Saudis by 2020 in a growing retail sector that attracts modern, local, regional, and international brands across all regions of the country. We also aim to increase the contribution of modern trade and e-commerce to 80 percent of the retail sector by 2020. This will be achieved by attracting both regional and international retail investors and by easing restrictions on ownership and foreign investment. To this end, we will facilitate local and regional flow of goods and develop necessary sectoral regulations. We will also increase financing of small retail enterprises to stimulate their growth and development.

A restructured King Abdullah Financial District‏

In the last decade, works started at the King Abdullah Financial District, without consideration of its economic feasibility. The objective was to prepare the land in order to allow the business and financial communities to invest and build real estate. When this objective was not reached, the government decided back then to develop and rent the real estate. Challenges were deepened by the development of the real estate project in one single phase, which caused a significant increase in construction costs and several delays in delivery. This resulted in large oversupply of commercial space for the years to come. Without any dramatic shift in direction, renting the three million square meters of built-up areas at reasonable prices, or even achieving decent occupancy rates, will be very challenging. With this in mind, we have reviewed the economic feasibility of and designed a new fundamental strategy for the district in order to increase the chances of profitability and success. We will seek to transform the district into a special zone that has competitive regulations and procedures, with visa exemptions, and directly connected to the King Khaled International Airport. We will also seek to repurpose some of the built-up areas and change the real estate mix, increasing the allocation for residential accommodation, services and hospitality areas. We will seek to build and create an integrated and attractive living and working environment. The district will be the headquarters of the Public Investment Fund, the largest sovereign wealth fund, which will contribute to creating an environment attractive to financial, investment and other corporations.

Our Commitments

A renewable energy market

Even though we have an impressive natural potential for solar and wind power, and our local energy consumption will increase three fold by 2030, we still lack a competitive renewable energy sector at present. To build up the sector, we have set ourselves an initial target of generating 9.5 gigawatts of renewable energy. We will also seek to localize a significant portion of the renewable energy value chain in the Saudi economy, including research and development, and manufacturing, among other stages. From inputs such as silica and petrochemicals, to the extensive expertise of our leading Saudi companies in the production of different forms of energy, we have all the raw ingredients for success. We will put this into practice with the forthcoming launch of the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative. We will review the legal and regulatory framework that allows the private sector to buy and invest in the renewable energy sector. To localize the industry and produce the necessary skill-sets, we will also encourage public-private partnerships. Finally, we will guarantee the competitiveness of renewable energy through the gradual liberalization of the fuels market.

A mining sector contributing to the national economy at full potential

We have been blessed with rich mineral resources such as aluminum, phosphate, gold, copper, uranium and other raw materials. Although the mining sector has already undergone improvements to cater to the needs of our industries, its contribution to GDP has yet to meet expectations. As such, we are determined to ensure it reaches SAR 97 billion by 2020, creating 90,000 job opportunities in the process. We are planning a number of structural reforms, which include stimulating private sector investments by intensifying exploration, building a comprehensive database of the Kingdom’s resources, reviewing the licensing procedures for extraction, investing in infrastructure, developing funding methods and establishing centers of excellence. We will also form strategic international partnerships and raise the competitiveness and productivity of our national companies. This will boost their contribution to the sector’s growth, as well as to the localization of knowledge and expertise.

Localized defense industries

The benefits of localizing our own defense industries are not limited to solely reducing military spending. It also stimulates other industrial sectors such as industrial equipment, communications and information technology, which in turn creates more job opportunities. Although the Kingdom is the world’s third biggest military spender, only 2 percent of this spending is within our Kingdom. The national defense industrial sector is limited to only seven companies and two research centers. Our aim is to localize over 50 percent of military equipment spending by 2030. We have already begun developing less complex industries such as those providing spare parts, armored vehicles and basic ammunition. We will expand this initiative to higher value and more complex equipment such as military aircraft. We will build an integrated national network of services and supporting industries that will improve our self-sufficiency and strengthen our defense exports, both regionally and internationally. Localization will be achieved through direct investments and strategic partnerships with leading companies in this sector. These moves will transfer knowledge and technology, and build national expertise in the fields of manufacturing, maintenance, repair, research and development. We will also train our employees and establish more specialized and integrated industrial complexes.

Our Commitments

A bigger role for small and medium-sized enterprises

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute only 20 percent of our GDP whereas, in advanced economies, this contribution can reach up to 70 percent. Despite the efforts made to improve the business environment in the Kingdom, SMEs can still endure unnecessarily slow and complex legal and administrative procedures. They also struggle to attract the necessary skills, capabilities and funding with financial institutions providing no more than 5 percent of the overall funding – a far lower percentage than the global average. We will strive to facilitate enhanced access to funding and to encourage our financial institutions to allocate up to 20 percent of overall funding to SMEs by 2030. The recently established SME Authority plans to review laws and regulations thoroughly, remove obstacles, facilitate access to funding, and enable youth and entrepreneurs to market their ideas and products. At the same time, we will establish additional new business incubators, specialized training institutions and venture capital funds. These will aid entrepreneurs in developing their skills and networks. We will also support SMEs in marketing and help export their products and services, by leveraging e-commerce and collaborating with international stakeholders.  

An education that contributes to economic growth

We will close the gap between the outputs of higher education and the requirements of the job market. We will also help our students make careful career decisions, while at the same time training them and facilitating their transition between different educational pathways. In the year 2030, we aim to have at least five Saudi universities among the top 200 universities in international rankings. We shall help our students achieve results above international averages in global education indicators. To this end, we will prepare a modern curriculum focused on rigorous standards in literacy, numeracy, skills and character development. We will track progress and publish a sophisticated range of education outcomes, showing year-on-year improvements. We will work closely with the private sector to ensure higher education outcomes are in line with the requirements of the job market. We will invest in strategic partnerships with apprenticeship providers, new skills councils from industry, and large private companies. We will also work towards developing the job specifications of every education field. Furthermore, we will build a centralized student database tracking students from early childhood through to K-12 and beyond into tertiary education (higher and vocational) in order to improve education planning, monitoring, evaluation, and outcomes.

Our Commitments

Corporatization: efficient and high quality health care

Our goal is to enhance the standard and quality of health care services. Our aim is a health care sector that promotes competition and transparency among providers. This will enhance the capability, efficiency and productivity of care and treatment and increase the options available to our citizens. To achieve this goal, we will introduce corporatization into the sector by transferring the responsibility for health care provision to a network of public companies that compete both against each other and against the private sector. This will provide our citizens with the highest quality of health care while, at the same time, allowing the government to focus on its legislative, regulatory and supervisory roles. Corporatization shall also promote and prioritize specialization in health care services and enable citizens to choose their preferred service provider.

“Irtiqaa”: A more prominent role for families in the education of their children

The engagement of parents in their children’s education is one of the main principles of success. Our goal by 2020 is for 80 percent of parents to be engaged in school activities and the learning process of their children. We will launch the “Irtiqaa” program, which will measure how effectively schools are engaging parents in their children’s education. We will establish parent-led boards in schools, to open discussion forums and further engage with parents. Teachers will receive training to raise their awareness of the importance of communicating with parents and equip them with effective methods to do so successfully. We will also collaborate with private and non-profit sectors to offer innovative educational programs and events that can improve this academic partnership.

Our Commitments

“Daem”: meaningful entertainment for citizens

We will increase the number and variety of cultural and entertainment activities with the aim of opening dedicated venues to showcase our citizens’ myriad talents. We will also review our regulations to simplify the establishment and registration of amateur, social and cultural clubs. We will launch and provide the necessary financial support for “Daem”, a national program to enhance the quality of cultural activities and entertainment. The program will create a national network of clubs, encourage the exchange of knowledge and international experiences and promote better awareness of a wide range of hobbies and leisure activities. By 2020, there will be more than 450 registered and professionally organized amateur clubs providing a variety of cultural activities and entertainment events.

Our Commitments

The largest Islamic museum

We have always taken – and will continue to take – great pride in our heritage. Mohammad, the Last of Prophets, Peace Be Upon Him, was from Makkah, the birthplace of Islam. Medina is where the first Islamic society was born. We will build an Islamic museum in accordance with the highest global standards, equipped with the latest methods in collection, preservation, presentation and documentation. It will be a major landmark for our citizens and visitors, where they will learn about the history of Islam, enjoy interactive experiences and participate in cultural events. Using modern technology, visitors to the museum will take an immersive journey through the different ages of Islamic civilization, as well as its science, scholars and culture. It will also be an international hub for erudition and include a world-class library and research center.

The honor to serve the increasing number of Umrah Visitors in the best way possible

We are honored to attend to pilgrims and Umrah visitors’ needs, fulfilling a role bestowed on us by Allah. Our expansion of the Two Holy Mosques has led to a tripling in the number of foreign Umrah visitors over the last decade, reaching eight million in 2015. By increasing the capacity and by improving the quality of the services offered to Umrah visitors, we will, by 2020, make it possible for over 15 million Muslims per year to perform Umrah and be completely satisfied with their pilgrimage experience. We will achieve this by improving visa application procedures which will smooth the visa process with the aim of full automation. We will also further integrate e-services into the pilgrims’ journey, which will enrich the religious and cultural experience. Both the public and private sectors will play a crucial role in this project as we work to upgrade accommodation, improve hospitality and launch new services for pilgrims.

Our Commitments

“Qawam”: increasing spending efficiency

We are committed to making our public spending radically more efficient, using our resources more effectively, and limiting waste. We will launch the “Qawam” program as a reflection of the Qur’anic verse that calls for moderation in spending between excess and parsimony. Allah the Almighty says: “And those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes)” Through this program, we will comprehensively review financial regulations in all government agencies. The program is intended to move away from a narrow reliance on process auditing, and move towards a more integrated approach with effective and efficient spending controls, and specific and measurable goals, while sustaining resources and assets. We will raise awareness and reward a culture of efficient spending throughout all administrative levels. Specialized training for employees and other key stakeholders will be provided as required, boosting the performance of finance departments and internal auditing.

Effective e-government

We have made remarkable progress in e-government. The scope of online services has already been expanded over the last decade to include employment programs, online job searches, e-learning services, traffic, passports and civil affairs, online payment services, online issuance of commercial registers, among others. This has improved Saudi Arabia’s ranking on several global indicators. In the UN e-Government Index, for instance, we ranked 36 in 2014, up from 90 in 2004. We will expand the scope of current online services further to include areas such as geographic information, health care and education. Quality will be improved by streamlining processes, and diversifying communication channels. We will also support the wider use of online applications in government agencies, such as cloud applications, data sharing platforms and HR management systems. Finally, we will strengthen the governance of online services within the government itself.

Shared services to our government agencies

We are working towards shared services across our government agencies. This will contribute to achieving our goal of increasing productivity and raising the efficiency of government spending. Shared services in our government will also aim to increase quality, cut costs, unify our efforts, and provide a suitable work environment for all parties at the lowest cost. Shared services can be applied globally and locally in many sectors. This is our long-term goal, and we will implement it gradually. As a first step therefore, we will examine the status of support services in government sectors, set the scope of work and develop comprehensive priorities and implementation plans. We will follow best practices in employing shared services, with a robust set of performance indicators that will measure quality, workflow improvement, cost reduction and knowledge transfer.  

King Salman Program for Human Capital Development

We have yet to identify and put into effect the best practices that would ensure that public sector employees have the right skills for the future. However, by 2020, we aim to have trained, through distance learning, 500,000 government employees. All ministries and government institutions will be required to adopt best practices in human capital development. We will continue to hire individuals according to merit and work towards building a broad talent base, so they may become leaders of the future. The King Salman Program for Human Capital Development will establish HR centers of excellence in every government agency, and provide training. We will work to raise the productivity of employees to the highest levels possible, by implementing proper performance management standards, providing continuous training for professional development, and sharing knowledge. We will develop targeted policies to identify and empower future leaders, and will furnish a stimulating environment that provides equal opportunities and rewards for excellence.

Our Commitments

A more impactful non-profit sector

Today, we have fewer than 1,000 non-profit and charitable foundations and associations. They contribute just 0.3 percent of our GDP, much less than the global average of 6 percent. Currently, just 7 percent of projects are focused on generating social impact or are aligned with the long-term national priorities. By 2020, more than one third of our non-profit organizations’ projects should have measurable and deep social impact. The recently published regulations on non-profit organizations and on the General Authority for Endowments will help the non-profit sector become more institutionalized, formalized and more efficient. We will accelerate this shift further by supporting projects and programs with high social impact and by facilitating the establishment of non-profit organizations by high net worth families, which will promote rapid growth of the non-profit sector. We will support this growth by creating a supportive and cooperate environment in which the sector’s institutions and government agencies can collaborate. At the same time, we will encourage the non-profit sector to apply proper governance standards, facilitate high quality training to staff and promote a culture of volunteering and full-time careers in the sector.