Saudi Prince, 31, Unveils Sweeping Plans To End ‘Addiction’ To Oil

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: The powerful young prince overseeing Saudi Arabia’s economy unveiled ambitious plans on Monday aimed at ending the kingdom’s “addiction” to oil and transforming it into a global investment power.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the world’s top oil exporter expects state oil company Saudi Aramco to be valued at more than $2 trillion ahead of the sale of less than 5 percent of it through an initial public offering (IPO).

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He added that the kingdom would raise the capital of its public investment fund to 7 trillion riyals ($2 trillion) from 600 billion riyals ($160 billion).

The plans also included changes that would alter the social structure of the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom by pushing for women to have a bigger economic role and by offering improved status to resident expatriates.

“We will not allow our country ever to be at the mercy of commodity price volatility or external markets,” Prince Mohammed said at his first news conference with international journalists, who were invited to a Riyadh palace for the event.

“We have developed a case of oil addiction in Saudi Arabia,” he had earlier told al-Arabiya television news channel.

His “Vision 2030” envisaged raising non-oil revenue to 600 billion riyals ($160 billion) by 2020 and 1 trillion riyals ($267 billion) by 2030 from 163.5 billion riyals ($43.6 billion) last year. But the plan gave few details on how this would be implemented, something that has bedevilled previous reforms.

The 31-year-old prince gave assured answers to questions on the plan, and appeared to pitch his comments to appeal across the Saudi social spectrum, and in particular to young people, who face unemployment and an economic downturn despite their country’s oil wealth.

Even before oil prices started to plunge in 2014, economists had regarded Riyadh’s fiscal policy and economic structure as being unsustainable, but reduced income from energy sales has made reform more urgent.

The plan appeared to lift sentiment on the Saudi stock market, where shares jumped by 2.5 percent in the heaviest trading for eight months, but it fell short of convincing sceptics that the kingdom can prosper in an era of cheap oil.

At the centre of the plan is the restructuring of its Public Investment Fund (PIF), which Prince Mohammed said would become a hub for Saudi investment abroad, partly by raising money through selling shares in Aramco.

Asked where Riyadh would find the funds for a $2 trillion dollar fund after recent borrowing, he said it would come from transferring the ownership of Aramco to the PIF.

“We are speaking about more than $2 trillion. We expect the valuation to be more than $2 trillion. In addition to that there are other assets that will be added to the fund, and part of it is already added.

He said it could “turn into a global investment fund with a size of up to $3 trillion dollars”.

OPENING ARAMCO ACCOUNTS

The partial privatisation of Aramco was also central to the plans, and Prince Mohammed said it would be transformed into an energy company that he expected to be valued at $2 trillion to $3 trillion, and that less than 5 percent of it would be listed on the stock market.

So big is the state oil company because of its rights to the kingdom’s crude reserves, that selling even 1 percent of its value would create the biggest initial public offering (IPO) on earth, he said.

He said other Aramco subsidiary companies would also be listed along with other publicly held companies, and added that one major benefit of privatisation was that it would increase transparency and help limit corruption.

“People used to be unhappy that files and data of Aramco are undeclared, unclear and not transparent. Today they will be transparent. If Aramco gets IPO-ed that means it has to announce its statements of accounts,” he said.

Since the prince was appointed to oversee Saudi long-term planning through the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, Riyadh’s focus on reform has grown far more urgent and far more acute.

Prince Mohammed has enjoyed a dizzyingly rapid rise since his father became king 15 months ago, from being little known outside the ruling Al Saud family to become the driving force of Saudi plans to prepare for a future after oil.

In his rare press conference, he presented himself as a modernising leader who seeks to shake Saudi Arabia out of its economic slumber and its reputation for opacity and rigid bureaucracy, showing an interest in topics including education, the public role of women, and football.

Saudi Arabia would prepare a new education curriculum, Prince Mohammed said. Despite previous reform attempts, the kingdom’s schools have long been seen as focussed on religious teachings rather than preparing students for a role in a modern economy.

Under the plans, Saudi Arabia would produce or assemble half of its defence equipment internally in order to create job opportunities, he said, and Riyadh would make foreign investment easier.

The government ran a deficit of 367 billion riyals ($98 billion) or 15 per cent of gross domestic product in 2015, officials said, and this year’s budget plan aimed to cut that to 326 billion riyals ($87 billion).

His economic team has already announced efforts to curb wasteful government spending, to diversify revenue streams by introducing sales tax and privatising state assets, and to make reforms in the education sector.

Such was the speculation among Saudis over the details of the plan that hashtags associated with it were the top two trending on Twitter on Monday in the country with the highest rate of social media use in the Middle East.

But ambitious targets, such as raising the private sector share in the economy to 60 percent from 40 percent, reducing unemployment to 7.6 percent from 11 percent and growing non-oil income to 1 trillion riyals ($267 billion) from 163 billion riyals ($44 billion) were not explained further.

PLANS

Some Saudis said they had hoped for more detail on crucial issues such as education reform. There were no further details of plans to increase revenue from tax or of any changes to the political structure of the absolute monarchy.

“For me as a Saudi, I am concerned by the education transformation plan,” said a Saudi entrepreneur. “If it is not at the top of the list, why not?”

However, the plan also envisaged increasing women’s participation in the workforce, something that has already grown quickly over the past five years, to 30 percent from 22 percent.

But he also said he did not believe Saudi society was ready to end its ban on women driving.

A green card system would also be launched within five years to enable expatriate Arabs and Muslims to live and work long-term in the country, Prince Mohammed said, in a major shift for the insular kingdom.

But the focus was on economic restructuring to help reduce oil dependence.

“I think by 2020, if oil stops we can survive,” Prince Mohammed said. “We need it, we need it, but I think in 2020 we can live without oil.”

Appealing to Saudi youth, he ended his news conference by promising them a new Saudi Arabia.

“The vision is not a dream, it’s a reality that will come true,” he said.

20 Comments

  1. “But the plan gave few details how it will be implemented….”

    Anyone can make grandiose plans, but like all other plans details of how it could be implemented is of paramount importance. If not, then the word summarises it all, as it will stay as a “Plan”

  2. Mr. Jay,

    I have been to Saudi Arabia and observed Saudis. Intellectually speaking, Saudis are a dumb race, most of them have a very low IQ. Saudis that have American degrees have gone to third, fourth, fifth or sixth rate colleges or universities (and there are thousands of them in America), whereas Indians join any of the top 25 universities, whose degrees are much coveted.

    Most Saudis are arrogant, because they have plenty of money. Even in India, if you were to come across an idiot whose has made money by hook or crook, he would be, due to money power, very arrogant and there are many people who will indulge in boot-licking. Take the instance of Vijay Mallya. Everyone were speaking about him and his lifestyle, but now that he is in a quagmire, everyone are silent. Money speaks.

  3. One has to be an ignoramus to believe that only Saudi has issues. Almost all of the Islamic world score very low when it comes individual freedom, free market and secular values. If it wasn’t for the oil, these guys would be living in tents with no sign of progress. Thanks to easy oil money – these days they have people from third world to take care of their goats and camels. All these things will come to a crashing end when world moves onto clean energy.

    • “If it wasn’t for the oil, these guys would be living in tents with no sign of progress” – Murudu Rampe

      Hello broddha Rampa,

      “If”, eh? Hmmmm.. Well, consider this “If” scenario – IF the US weren’t to be ‘discovered’ (the actual word should be ‘raped’ & ‘pillaged’, the native Americans would still have been living happily in their Wigwams and living FREE on their OWN land instead of the REMAINING FEW being shunted into reservations.

      AND subsequent to the first IF, IF not for the slaves, there would be no rail, no cotton, no construction. And as though gobbling-up a WHOLE country wasn’t enough, the ‘Yumreekis’ gobbled up Texas which was an integral part of Mexico. Lol! BoddaPPanna had and has a voracious appetite, eh?

      Stop your infantile “if’s” and but’s ya Rampa. Grow up for a change. Hey no! I don’t mean in size and age. 😉 😉

  4. Mr. Jay,

    I am not swayed by any religious considerations to speak otherwise about Saudi Arabia and let me write the facts.

    Oil was found in Saudi Arabia in 1936 or so by Americans led by an American geologist, Max Steineke. Therefore, in Dhahran, the Headquarters of Aramco, there is a building called the Maxi Steineke Hall. The Americans had drawn and made the Monarch to sign an agreement, wherein the latter had to concede many concessions, including not interfering in the functioning of Aramco or lifestyle in their townships, which are an exact replica of towns in America. In return, the Monarch, who was very impoverished and living in tents – a far cry to the life led by the Indian princes then – was paid monies, which were windfalls. When the Monarch first invited to Dhahran, he did not live in a house or mansion, but he and his retinue lived in tents just outside Dhahran.

    The talk by the Saudi Prince that the government will tap into other sources of energy is a big talk today by a race which is so lazy that it is amongst the five laziest nationalities in the world. Saudis do not know what it is to do physical work like preparing a cup of tea, cleaning the kitchen or house, cooking, forget about other complex things. Almighty God has been so benevolent and partial to this nationality who are, at best: dumb, lazy, spend limitless times talking on the phone, are base human beings, etc.

    Come weekend, many Saudis drive into Bahrain on the causeway, where they either check into the hotels which have night clubs, mujras, etc. Regulars have rented, furnished villas and apartments and engage the services of ladies, mostly Filipinas aand Ethiopians. Their houses are well stocked with drinks bought from liquor outlets in Bahrain and food is ordered from fast food and other restaurants. During the weekends or holidays, it is fun and frolic. Expatriates and Bahrainis hate Saudis, but have to tolerate them, as they are big spenders. The happiest people are prostitutes, fast food and restaurant delivery boys, pimps, waitresses at the night clubs and building watchmen.

    Once the oil is over, the members of the Royal Family and other rich people will flee abroad. For the unfortunates, it will be living in tents, keeping and rearing goats and camels, eating dates and consuming goat and camel milk and meat.

    Saudi Arabia is one of the most urbanized countries in the world with 90% of its population living in few cities and towns dotting that vast, limitless desert landscape.

  5. One country (USA) gave great scientists, numerous inventions including the very internet that I’m using to post my response. It’s not just the science and technology, it also gave great philosophers, strongest military, entertainment giants, some of the greatest athletes and more importantly folks from all over the world a chance to migrate and pursue their dream!!! The other country (KSA) has contributed nothing to human progress except funding backward ideologies and terror groups. In USA, a south indian can go onto become the CEO of Google!! In KSA, your passports will be held by your employer and you will be forced to live with 8 other roommate as our joker Pinto did!! However, joker Praveena Pinto thinks that both countries re equally good/bad because they sound almost similar – USA and KSA!!! How does Beef Club produce so many geniuses? How do you explain these things to Joker Pinto whose only idea of USA comes from eating ‘bargaar’ with ‘soce’ right next to vegetable market in Mangaluru!!!

    • In KSA…..and you will be forced to live with 8 other roommate (sic) as our joker Pinto did!” – Podi Bhaktha – Namma Kudla’da Rampe

      Man! it looks like you haven’t stopped hallucinating until NOW!

      Look ya simple-minded Rampu – I can understand some celebrations on April 14th 2016 (Ambedkar Jayanthi). BUT then when the celebrations are ongoing EVEN on 29th April, well…. it is confirmed that you have a serious problem which is hitherto unaddressed!

      No wonder then that you keep harping about me in Saudi, some ‘Aadu Jeevitham’, 8 per room out there, Beedi business, ‘gujjiri’ business, HappaLA business, rejected Yumreeki visa, ‘I no know no Murudu statues’ (lol), I hate Akhandaaaaaaa Bharaaathaaaaa and SD, I’m brahmana hater and Podi baiter, ‘I dunno no Saaaamskruuutaam’, I lovva the Westa, adore Kayne Westa’s backside… blah blah.. lah dee dah…. and God alone knows whatnot!

      Man, Rampa! Gotta hand it to you! You have missed your vocation in life. You SHOULD have been a stand-up comedian! 🙂 🙂 God bless!

    • The other country (KSA) has contributed nothing to human progress except funding backward ideologies and terror groups” – Rampe.

      I’m compelled to agree with you. 😉

      Or else, WHY on earth would they invest some 650 billion USD to ‘fund’ some FORWARD ideology in Yumreeka?

      And lol.. those chaps merely threaten to pull-out that 650 billion and off run the YUMREEKI top-gun, some philosophers, military top-brass, spin docs, jokers (entertainment GIANTS), – ALL TOP athletes in their OWN disciplines to placate the ‘Aadu’. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Good going ya Rampa.

      Man…. im on the floor rolling.. clutching on to my abs.. cramps.. been laughing SO MUCH! 🙂 However, the pain in my abs is worth the JOY of your jokes. 🙂

      More saar.. more…. 🙂

    • ‘Bargaar with soce’ – Rampe

      Hmm…. well you yoyo…. take a look at this:

      https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/americas/united-states-of-america/report-united-states-of-america/

      Eight to a room in Saudi – based on YOUR experience, eh? Well, take a look at THESE poor folks who have ‘rooms’ as large as barns or huge BUS terminals or FIELDS.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrYn3LoKxvk

      Well, you need more, you poor RAmpa in THE land of the FREE….. just ask Joker Praveena 🙂

    • One country (USA) gave great scientists, numerous inventions….. blah blah” – Namma Rampe

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agMJtRgTS9M

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGpv504A5G0

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ok5ACFUoRc

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWPTsHC3hFs

      Are those videos from Ethiopia, Mr. Rampu’ji?

      Oh yeah man, Rampa… scientists pouring outta the ‘ears’ of the corn – corn of the cob! No baargar.. no alsande soce. JUST Yumreeka. 😉 Oh, no Saudi tent too with some aadu for company.

  6. Dear Original R. Pai,

    I do not wish to get involved with the mud slinging bouts you and Mr. Praveen Pinto have regularly, because I do not know the origins and backgrounds of your differences and, moreover, it is not right for me to butt in without compelling reasons. All said and done, both of you are my friends and I wish you all the best and solace and contentment in your lives. We are here on this earth for a short while and let us spread happiness wherever we go.

    Otherwise, you are spot on about Saudi Arabia. The Monarchy has self-imposed themselves on the people and the royals wish to rule in perpetuity, secrecy and iron hand by giving unfettered powers to the muttawas and the police and they either have fun in their palaces or go on jaunts to the Riveira, America, shooting the Great Indian Bustard (an endangered bird) in the Pakistani desert by bribing the ever-willing, bakeesh-seeking Pakistani government and officials, who will do anything for money. Nowadays, the Gulf Arabs feel uncomfortable going to America, because they are eyed with suspicion by the immigration and customs authorities, including the police and people and they are either questioned or taunted, irrespective of the fact whether the Gulf Arab is a Sheikh (or a Bake).

    The royals live in their ivory towers and enjoy, go abroad, gamble, indulge in ……….. activities and you name the sins and they have committed it. When the ex-King Fahd was the Crown Prince, he went abroad, gambled and lost $ 4.4 million and came out with a smile on his face. This was, if I recall correctly, in the first half of 1970s before King Faisal was shot by one of his countless nephews (every member of royal family has numerous wives, even more than four, besides mistresses), who had stood in a queue to offer Eid greetings. When his turn came, he pulled the trigger. For the crime he committed, he was arrested, tried and beheaded with a golden sword.

    I would have wished to have a dialogue with Shaikh Mohammed Rizwan but, it appears, he has applied Fair & Lovely or some vanishing cream and vanished in thin air.

    It is high time that wiser counsels prevail with the members of the royal family and they relinquish power and go abroad and live happily with their stashed millions and billions. Saudi Arabia can be a time bomb.

  7. Looking at four incoherent responses to single post of mine, it’s quite clear that joker Praveena Pinto is playing defense!! smiles…When I pointed out the overwhelming contribution of USA to overall human progress as compared to backward societies like Saudi, he comes back with lamest response I have ever seen – “America has poor people too” !!!! LOL LOL No kidding – America has poor people!! Who would have thought, right? See, this kind of infantile worldview is why Joker Praveena continues to be the joker and joke!! Every society, by nature, will have rich and poor. However, you can’t compare a poor person in Florida to poor person in Uganda!! You also need to look at different programs available to people facing financial difficulties. We are talking about entirely different scale of poverty here. Then again, how do you explain these things to a guy like Joker Pinto who is still not fully aware of the scale of his own ignorance!! It makes me cringe when I see his lack of grip and understanding on any given subject.

    • “Every society, by nature, will have rich & poor.” – Murudu Rampe

      Hahahahahaha! No “if’s” here, eh? SELECTIVE dementia, eh? 😉 But then, with a putturu Rampa who is out on the range eating jerky, what can one expect? Oh no! No 8 to a bed for our Rampa. The WHOLE of the Range is our Rampa’s bed. 🙂

      See, it takes FOUR (4) posts on JUST one silly opinionated post of yours and ‘PHYNALLY’, our Murudu Rampa admits something.

      I was hoping that better sense would prevail all this while. But alas.. no…. He runs off to Uganda. Lol! When i ask why the US has the world’s WORST human-rights record, he will label me as a Podi-baiter.

      When I ask him as to why the US prints more currency (without adequate collateral) than toilet paper, he will say that I hate the Sanaaaaathaaaana Dhaaarmaaaa pollowers.

      No GREATER joke and JOKER hath a man seen! 🙂

      Say, Rampa.. were you ‘like this ONLY’ right from the beginning? Or, did Billa’s beatings made you like this?

  8. Dear Nelson,
    I’m not at all surprised to read your equally strong views on Saudi Arabia. To be honest, your views are exactly the views of any educated, informed person on this earth. It would be an immediate disqualification to even suggest that USA is somehow as same as Saudi when it comes to human innovation, progress and contribution. Only those with highest level of ignorance or dishonesty would try to peddle this distorted view in public. To be fair, Praveena Pinto is not dishonest!!smiles…

  9. Does anyone know what Joker Praveena Pinto is trying to say in his 5th response to my earlier post? To be fair, I understand why his ability to think logically and present a coherent argument are very limited. Due to factors beyond his control, he had failed to secure a USA visa and ended up in KSA. After spending decades in such a backward society, one can’t expect him to change overnight and start appreciating ‘Hamilton-Jefferson’ level discourse. Not to mention ‘dinka-dinka’ simpletons he grew up with and surrounded by after being sent back from KSA. I know it hurts him whenever I point out how USA is far more superior to KSA. It doesn’t mean that I should give up. My job is to educate him.

  10. “Not to mention ‘dinka-dinka’ simpletons he grew up with..” – Rampa muttering to himself about his Daijis

    See ya Rampa, those simpletons are ALL your ‘kutambh’ and ‘daijis’.

    After all, you were one of them when you grew up someplace in Vittala/Bantawaala and then ran away to Mysooru to light ‘Arathi’ before Rajakumaaraa’s movies were screened. Why blame them now?

  11. ‘Hamilton-Jefferson’ debate – Namma Murudu Rampe

    Lol! YOUR silly references to H-F ‘debates’ don’t change a THING, dear Rampa. Look at ground reality and just stop dragging-in some high-falutin names. DESPITE all that “debates”, 25% of your SILLY prez’s were involved in slave trafficking & human-trafficking.

    And when it comes to YOUR Western masters Human right’s record….. need I say MORE than this?

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=ci8YQLK8D0Y

    and hey…. look here mi’boy:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=KBf8YyzEeNg

    Sitting TIGHT in the “land of my allged meshtrugalum…. eh”? Rampa saar, rampa saaru….. Or, is this happening in the greater Levant?

    Do me a favor. Go.. look for Rapeeka and Patheema. 🙂

  12. US-rejected, Saudi-returned Praveena Pinto continues to embarrass himself by arguing how USA is same as KSA when it comes to human rights!! I agree that he is not the brightest bulb but I don’t think he really believes in the idiotic stuff he posts. It’s just an act of desperation to protect his inconvenient alliance with peaceful folks. This kind of strange suicidal self-hatred and selective dumbness are unique to ‘Beef Club’ members. This is a sad result of generations of confused identity and lost culture!!!

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