Thursday, 16 July 2020 08:49

Saudi Arabia 2030: How to Achieve a Dynamic & Thriving 21st Century Economy


By: Gary Whitehill

Economic & Geopolitical Strategist


As the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) hits full speed across Saudi Arabia it is important for both public and private sector leaders to understand the correct 21st Century paradigms, platforms and partnerships necessary to design and execute a comprehensive economic and geopolitical vision which ensures the country re-emerges rightfully as a global powerhouse on the world stage.

Correctly understood, this the 4IR provides an unprecedented opportunity for wealth creation, economic dynamism and future-forward solutions to the county’s biggest social, economic, geographic and digital challenges. The bottom line is this: in order to create an inclusive prosperous reality for the Kingdom for the next 100 generations to come, leadership needs to look far beyond statistics, trends, and “best practices.”

So far during my time in Saudi Arabia, as a speaker at “Asbar World Forum”, I have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of raw potential for economic dynamism and growth. This is a direct result of the dense culture cultivated across Saudi Arabia for centuries. As a result, the opportunity Saudi Arabia has today to both engage the world and lead is unprecedented. Why? Two reasons.

First, every conventional World Power is now philosophically bankrupt. This current state of global affairs provides the Kingdom a unique, one-time opportunity to develop a definitively lead the region and the world.

Culture properly defined encompasses the shared myths, themes and characteristics which bond families, communities and this beautiful nation. Culture can be intentionally manifested through seven ingredients which are then enhanced by supporting processes and knowledge. As part of its 2030 Vision, Saudi Arabia needs to grow the culture initiative 100x fold. Culture is more powerful than any law, belief system, knowledge or process. This makes it a key linchpin for the future of the Kingdom on the world stage.

Second, economic justice and global dynamic leadership. In the 21st Century, the Kingdom only gets one opportunity to make a first impression. These next 10 years is Saudi Arabia’s window of opportunity to re-emerge on the world stage. There is no other country of this size in the world with such an important and valuable geopolitical position. Consequently, the vision for this country must become a socially conscious high-tech democracy standing as the beacon of hope for the 21st Century Silk Road.

The Kingdom must partner with leaders both inside and (especially) outside the country to distill the philosophical narrative of the country’s rich culture into a deeply conscious, simple vision. A clear one sentence vision is the only way to rally the nation and regional partners behind distinctive mission, values, and strategies that are relevant in the 21st Century.

The best practices of the 20th century, the models and statistics being served up as ‘progress’ are outdated conventional wisdom – literally irrelevant in the 21st Century. So name brand partnerships are not the solution. This is a country with a very strong legacy, and as part of this vision we need to not only get rid conventional wisdom partners, but also outdated economic paradigms. So what do we do?

Design an easily understandable economic strategy: Saudi Arabia should focus on building five companies that make $50 million in revenue in the next five years. The formula of 5-5-5. These companies should be focused within 2-3 industries that are familiar intuitively to Saudi’s based on the history of the nation and a growing geopolitical need for economic dynamism

Once again, being clear, simple, concise and direct is imperative. Then once the country has implemented 5-5-5, bring in the right strategic partners, the right investors, the right people who believe what all Saudi’s believe – all for the right reasons. Remember, the vision informs the mission, and the mission informs the strategies. This is the only formula for supercharging Saudi Arabia to become the beacon of opportunity it deserves to become once again.



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