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Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030: A Golden Opportunity for Space?

Deputy Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photograph courtesy of GlobalSecurity.org.
Deputy Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photograph courtesy of GlobalSecurity.org.

ThorGroup’s Chairman and President, Dr. John B. Sheldon, explores the role of space in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 recently announced economic and social reform programme. He argues that Vision 2030 is a golden opportunity for Saudi Arabian space.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman and Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has launched a much-needed and ambitious social and economic reform programme for the Kingdom called Vision 2030.

Vision 2030 was developed by Prince Mohammed in order to bring about reforms as Saudi Arabia faces record-low oil prices, unprecedented regional instability, and looming social problems ranging from youth unemployment to inefficient government at home. Further, Saudi Arabia may feel further pressure if Iran’s economy grows substantially.

Commentators have welcomed the Vision 2030 reforms as necessary, and even overdue, but have also cautioned that it is ambitious in such a short period of time. Further, many warn that the challenges are not just bureaucratic and economic, but that deeply entrenched societal and cultural attitudes towards issues such as politics, the social compact between the Saudi Royal Family and the Wahhabi clerical class, and the role of women in society will have to be reformed as well.

Doubtless there shall be a spirited and rigorous debate on these and other issues.

These challenges aside, a lot is riding on Vision 2030 and it is imperative that it delivers if the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to maintain its status as a regional power and thrive in an exponentially interconnected, competitive, and uncertain world.

One way to help ensure success, however, is for Saudi Arabia to harness the technologies and potential of space systems, and this essay seeks to identify particular ways and areas by which this can be done.


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