Saudi Arabia’s leadership recently introduced an ambitious plan called Vision 2030 to move the country away from oil and toward a more diversified, modern economy. Fortunately, the economy is already much more diversified than is often reported, a fact obscured by the very high price of oil from 2000 to 2014. Since the mid-1970s, the Kingdom has developed chemical, metal, and fertilizer industries that are among the most advanced in the world. Most of these industries have been built on the natural advantages of Saudi Arabia: low-cost energy, large mineral resources, access to plentiful capital, and proximity to the huge markets of Asia.
The end of Saudi Arabia’s addiction to oil: Downstream industrial development by Jean-Francois Seznec reviews the existing downstream industries in the public and private sectors, and what has made them so successful thus far, including sophisticated financing, state support, joint ventures with well-known foreign partners, and world trade agreements. It also evaluates whether this industrial base can be put on steroids to fulfill the expectations of Vision 2030 in light of many of the challenges the Kingdom faces.