The Saudi Vision 2030 transformation plan has come under great public scrutiny. It has also aroused the interest of many outside the country. For the first time in Saudi history, a well-crafted plan has been displayed publicly. Over the years, we have seen many five-year plans but not much has been revealed about their successful completion.
With regard to Saudi Vision 2030, many were skeptical at first, but, gradually, enthusiasm has started to build. Frankly, the plan on paper is good and we truly hope it will materialize. However, for it to be implemented successfully, we need to have dedicated groups of people – not only from the government sector but from the private sector as well. A marriage of both these groups will ensure sound progress. However, those in charge of the transformation should make it very clear that bureaucracy must not be a hindrance to advancement.
The public is truly frustrated with the red tape and arrogance of bureaucrats. Public statements of Saudi Arabia welcoming foreign investment and promising to provide facilities are useless until practical steps are evolved. While foreign investments are being welcomed and facilities offered to investors, the government should not forget those who have already come, invested and served the community. Some of the new laws are proving to be detrimental. We should not allow hasty bureaucratic decisions to harm those companies which have been contributing to the Saudi economy. These include many in the health and education sector. Notably among them are the Al-Abeer Medical Group and the American Strategic Healthcare Management Company. There are also many others. The ministries concerned should take note.
In addition, there should be transparency and good governance. Anyone violating the basic premises of good behavior and management should be severely dealt with.
We are facing great challenges on all fronts: Security, water and environmental concerns, along with rising population and unemployment. How are we going to deal with these issues? A sound and healthy economy will provide a bulwark against encroachment by interference. A vibrant economy is a must. Dependency on oil should be lessened by the minute and should be the foremost goal of our planners.
The creation of jobs is also necessary. However, Saudization should be viewed in a different context. We cannot congratulate ourselves on employing Saudi security guards and shopkeepers. There must be a productive area where citizens can help the nation. Inhibitions against manual work should be erased and false patriotism should not be spread by the media, whose very role leaves much to be desired.
No hailing and praising, please! No lulling people into a state of false well-being. State the truth and let society know what it is. And please focus on those who are contributing silently.
Our country has a vast reservoir of talent. Our young men and women are dedicated to work but they do not get enough exposure. Let the media highlight their goals, achievements and aspirations. The media should not fail the nation. We are at a crossroads and confronting many challenges. We can surmount all of this if we build a society that is educated and cultured and where every individual man or woman and from every region or ethnic group has equal rights and opportunities to shine. I am optimistic.
— Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena