Vision 2030: The New Arabian Dream


Sujith Vasudevan, Managing EditorIt’s terrific to see Saudi Arabia piloting the changes happening in the Arabian Peninsula. The iconic ‘Saudi Vision 2030’, a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism, is the epitome of this change. Sports and sports tourism is a big part of this new Arabian dream.

Is sports all about building the image of the Arabian Peninsula? Not at all. Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (now Prime Minister) launched one of the most strategic economic plans in the world, the Saudi Vision 2030, in 2016.

One of the priorities of the vision that aimed at economic diversification away from hydrocarbons and toward different industries was Sports. Over the past half a decade, Saudi Arabia’s sports industry has undergone major reforms led by three key goals: more community engagement in sports by 2030, improving Saudi elite athletes’ performances abroad, and boosting the sports economy; it is no coincidence that their national football team beat Argentina, the 2022 world cup winner, in their first group match.

Interestingly, these three aspects have been quite generous to the country’s plans so far. One of Saudi Arabia’s biggest hurdles in promoting sports was the significant shortage in women’s participation. MBS’s bold and often dramatic reforms have helped address this problem. In 2018, he announced the permission for families—not just male attendees—to enter stadiums across the country. The result? Attendance for athletic events rose by a whopping 152 percent.

The direction the whole of West Asia is heading toward is fairly visible. They no longer want to be the rich yet isolated part of the world. As the world voice more inclusiveness, they are here to take it. Forward-thinking business leaders in the region are ready to get behind this goal.

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