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Saudi Vision 2030: Stakes go high for ‘Riyadh Expo’

‘Riyadh Expo 2030’ presents a golden opportunity to attract foreign investment, contributing to the economic diversification goal of ‘Vision 2030’

‘Vision 2030’ is a strategic plan that aims to modernize the Kingdom’s economy, lessen its reliance on oil, and create a dynamic society with solid roots and foundations that uphold moderate Islam, Saudi heritage, national pride, and Islamic culture.

The capital city of Saudi Arabia has been one of the epicentres of growth in the progress towards ‘Vision 2030’. With a new downtown, green initiatives, and the designated venue for ‘World Expo 2030’, Riyadh has a lot going on for itself!

World Expo 2030

“During the eight years since the announcement of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom has witnessed changes and developments that surpass what has been accomplished in the past 80 years of its history, and Riyadh is a part of this success story,” Princess Reema bint Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, said recently.

She was speaking in Paris in June 2023 during the 172nd General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions, or BIE, the intergovernmental organization that selects host nations for the World Expo.

If the BIE chooses Riyadh to host the event in 2030, the Saudi capital will feature pavilions from 246 countries and welcome about 40 million visitors, who will see for themselves the realization of Vision 2030.

Riyadh is competing with Busan and Rome to host this prestigious event.

Vision 2030 seeks to utilize every valuable asset Saudi Arabia has to diversify its economy and invest in its people by creating a more sustainable and equitable future, new employment opportunities, and harnessing the potential of young Saudis.

In addition, Vision 2030 also includes dozens of megaprojects and giga-projects spread across the Kingdom, as well as hundreds of initiatives, programs, and reforms. These aim to drive the growth of domestic industries and attract investment.

The reform program’s rapid progress demonstrates Riyadh’s commitment to development, achieving prosperity, and ensuring inclusivity for all citizens.

As a testament to Saudi Arabia’s growth and path to prosperity, the International Monetary Fund recently named the Kingdom the fastest-growing economy among the G20 countries, with an overall growth rate of 8.7%.

Hosting an international event of Expo 2030’s magnitude requires significant infrastructure. Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to win the bid has played a pivotal role in accelerating the implementation of Vision 2030’s goals.

The Kingdom has already allocated a budget of USD 7.8 billion to investments for Riyadh in anticipation of the expo. More broadly, Vision 2030 aims to reach USD 3.3 trillion in national-level investments by the end of this decade.

‘Riyadh Expo 2030’ also presents a golden opportunity to attract foreign investment, contributing to the economic diversification goal of ‘Vision 2030’.

These reforms have been progressively introduced since the initial announcement of Vision 2030, beginning with modest changes that have since evolved into far-reaching transformative reforms.

Today, the Kingdom hopes to draw millions of visitors from around the world to expand its growing tourism sector, which has seen record growth since the start of this decade, while fulfilling Vision 2030’s objective of creating more employment opportunities for Saudi citizens.

Aside from catering to tourists seeking leisure in its many luxury resorts, Saudi Arabia has also shone a spotlight on its cultural and historical heritage sites, which were previously difficult for foreign tourists or even archaeologists to access.

Riyadh Expo 2030 would act as a platform for Saudi Arabia to share its history, traditions, and cultural diversity with the world, promoting cross-cultural understanding and supporting Vision 2030’s cultural preservation goals.

The Kingdom promises the expo will become the “first environmentally friendly exhibition that achieves zero” carbon emissions, Riyadh Expo 2030 team member Nouf Bint Majid Al-Muneef said in a speech delivered to BIE.

The goal to host a zero-carbon emission expo also aligns with Vision 2030’s commitment to clean energy and sustainability. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia aims to derive 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

BIE member states will choose the host country for World Expo 2030 at their 173rd General Assembly, scheduled for 2023 November.

If Saudi Arabia wins, it will seize the opportunity to showcase its technological advancements and the sweeping cultural and societal changes that Vision 2030 has accomplished in less than a decade.

New Downtown

With a total of USD 800 billion in investments, the country hopes to quadruple the size and population of its capital city as part of its Vision 2030 plan to modernize the Gulf Arab state and lessen its reliance on oil export earnings.

More than 80 cultural and entertainment venues, a museum, a technology and design university, and an immersive theatre with multiple uses are all part of the New Murabba Development Company’s plans, according to state news agency SPA.

The facility is scheduled to be completed in 2030, just in time for Expo 2030, which Saudi Arabia has bid to host. It will accommodate hundreds of thousands of people and occupy an area of 19 square kilometres northwest of Riyadh.

According to the report, by 2030, the project is anticipated to generate 334,000 direct and indirect jobs and increase non-oil GDP by 180 billion riyals (USD 48.00 billion).

Green Riyadh

One of the world’s most ambitious urban afforestation efforts is the Green Riyadh project. On March 19, 2019, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, unveiled one of Riyadh’s Four Megaprojects.

The project will mark a significant accomplishment toward the Saudi Vision 2030’s main objective, which is to raise Riyadh’s ranking among the top 100 most livable cities in the world.

By planting trees around all city features and amenities as well as in all of its provinces, the Green Riyadh project will improve the total amount of green space and contribute to improving the per capita share of green space.

An irrigation network’s recovered water will be used to irrigate every green space. The city will experience cooler temperatures and better air quality as a result of the greening program.

Conclusion

The World Expo 2030 presents an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to showcase its achievements and cultural diversity while attracting foreign investment and driving economic diversification.

The New Downtown and Green Riyadh projects are additional examples of the Kingdom’s commitment to development, sustainability, and improving the quality of life for its citizens.

Overall, Vision 2030’s transformative reforms have had a positive impact on Saudi Arabia’s growth and path to prosperity.

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