Ambassador of Saudi Arabia: "The Kingdom has taken a courageous step towards change"

On the occasion of the presidency of the Persian Gulf country at the G20, Mansour Bin Khalid Al Farhan Al-Saud has presented his country's agenda for this international meeting and its Vision 2030 Plan
His Highness Prince Mansour Bin Khalid Al Farhan Al-Saud, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Kingdom of Spain and Manuel Alabart, Secretary General of INCIPE and Vice President of Técnicas Reunidas International

PHOTO/ATALAYAR  -   His Highness Prince Mansour Bin Khalid Al Farhan Al-Saud, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Kingdom of Spain and Manuel Alabart, Secretary General of INCIPE and Vice President of Técnicas Reunidas International

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly the most important Muslim country in the world. With these words, Manuel Alabart opened, this Tuesday, the working breakfast that was held in the assembly hall of INCIPE - Institute of International Affairs and Foreign Policy -. He is a member, and president during this 2020, of the G20, an international economic forum that brings together two thirds of the world's population and represents 85% of the global GDP.

Alabart, who was Spain's ambassador to Saudi Arabia until mid-2009, was responsible for conducting the presentations corresponding to the subject matter addressed during the meeting, whose protagonist was the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Spain, His Highness Prince Mansour Bin Khalid Al Farhan Al-Saud.

"Since my departure as ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 2009, the country has undergone an unprecedented transformation," Alabart said. Along these lines, he pointed out that what is considered the new Saudi Arabian is demonstrating a capacity for openness and willingness to change that, without a doubt, is aimed at ensuring the future of the generations to come.

After these declarations by the Spanish official, the Saudi ambassador addressed the meeting. "We are in a period of great economic uncertainty in which it is imperative to promote strong channels of multilateral cooperation. In this way, and through consensus, the main global challenges must be faced," he warned. According to the Saudi diplomat, the presidency of the Kingdom of the G20 provides a unique opportunity to bring together the main and most urgent issues on the international agenda under the umbrella of integration and diversity.

Saudi Arabia's objectives during its presidency

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in providing leadership of the G20 for the coming months, sets three goals of the highest priority and importance. Firstly, the empowerment of society, with special emphasis on the youth and women's sector, which today, and as an example, accounts for 70% of the population in the country. Thus, the aim is to promote the creation of opportunities for these groups in all sectors of the economy. Secondly, to safeguard the population's natural resources, addressing food and water security, climate change, environmental preservation and the promotion of sustainable energy. Thirdly, Saudi Arabia aims to "redesign the borders", that is, to encourage the exchange of solutions and technology between states and partnerships between strategic allies, with which to develop consensus plans for current challenges.

All this, in the words of the ambassador, is in tune with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 plan, described as an ambitious but feasible road map, both for Saudi Arabia and for the international sphere as a whole.

"We are at a crucial socio-economic moment. We must put all our efforts into enhancing the resources and activity offered to the population," the Saudi diplomat said. "Women, for example, have moved from being a disadvantaged group to being the priority of Vision 2030 in the areas of work, education, social exposure and leadership positions," he added. In this way, Saudi Arabia aims to encourage job creation, the promotion of an empowered society and the attraction of foreign investment.

The new priority sectors: tourism and entertainment

During the presentation of the Saudi Arabian strategy for the G20 agenda and its Vision 2030, the Ambassador stressed the new economic perspective that his country has adopted. Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil. To this end, it is now committed to strengthening the tourism sector, considered to be the best means for socio-economic development.  

In recent years, the Kingdom has completely opened up to foreign tourism. In this sense, the new policy implemented for the processing of visas stands out, which, since last year, can be done directly online through a simple process. "We believe that tourism along with entertainment, as shown in our Vision 2030, is the key to the development of a globalized economy like Saudi Arabia. Tourism to Saudi Arabia not only encourages cultural exchange in an interconnected world, but also provides an attractive niche for foreign investment. The Spanish investor will be able to see the potential of the tourism infrastructure sector that is currently booming," explained the Saudi diplomat. 

Vista aérea de la roca del elefante en el desierto de Ula, Arabia Saudí
AFP/FAYEZ NURELDINE - Aerial view of the elephant rock in the desert of Ula, Saudi Arabia

In the course of his statements, the ambassador wanted to highlight how his country is also opening up to foreign investment, facilitating the processes of arrival of Spanish companies and ensuring the security of Saudi investments. All this thanks to the technological advance and the digitalization of the Kingdom.

Currently, more than thirty Spanish companies are already operating in Saudi Arabia, including Acciona, Indra and Navantia.

Visit to Cadiz

The ambassador took advantage of the meeting and its theme to take stock of his trip to Cadiz. The Kingdom has signed with the Spanish company Navantia the construction of five new corvettes for the Saudi Arabian Navy, as well as the pavilions that will house the residence of the future crew members in the sea trials phase. The ambassador headed a delegation last week that visited the San Fernando shipyard and the Carraca arsenal.

In an interview with the local media, Diario de Cádiz, which took place at the Navantia management, the Saudi diplomat described his impressions of the first phase of the project as "very positive", according to the interview with the media. The contract with the shipping company means an income of 1,8 billion euros and the creation of 6,000 jobs. It will also include training and know-how exchange.

Vista general de un astillero de Navantia
AFP/MIGUEL RIOPA - General view of a shipyard in Navantia

The conference concluded with the support of the ambassador to a collaborative relationship with Spain, highlighting the wide range of possibilities that are open to both in a relationship that has more than 70 years, and emphasising that Saudi Arabia is today "a land of opportunities".