The Challenges Ahead
The pace and tempo of change in Saudi Arabia has accelerated. For the last 30 years, modern economic history has seen few national changes as rapid and turbulent as those that have affected Saudi Arabia. They have transformed the desert Kingdom beyond recognition. For better or for worse, the Kingdom and its citizens have to live with the consequences of decisions taken in earlier days, and press on to meet the growing list of challenges facing the country in the new millennium. Sitting on top of a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves, Saudi Arabia attracts both envy and fear of its economic potential. However, no other country, some analysts would argue, is so rich and yet so poor. Despite massive oil reserves, its per capita income is below those of its neighbours in the GCC; the country is beset by a rising tide of population growth and the spectre of growing unemployment. Despite many discussions about diversification and public exhortations to the private sector, the Kingdom is still reliant on two main exports: crude oil and energy-related petrochemical products.