Saudi Vision Has Drive
By Jason Trenchfield
I’ve been asked many times: is the Saudi Vision 2030 ambitious? My answer is always: “Yes, but it’s something that the country is ready for, in many different ways.”
I’ve spent most of 2018 working in the Saudi city of Jeddah with AECOM on a strategic project for the country’s Transport Ministry. Throughout this time, I’ve experienced firsthand the vigorous enthusiasm Saudis have towards their country’s growth plans. The younger generation, which makes up most of the population, is very much in tune with advancements in technology and innovation, while the older generation is providing expertise to steer the change in the right direction.
One of the many important strategic areas for growth is transportation. This ranges from the movement of freight to innovative public transport. There is a huge drive to enhance the country’s aviation industry, which includes development in Jeddah and the Saudi cities of Arar and Abha, as well as development of major infrastructure for high-speed rail – such as the Haramain high-speed rail project (a 453-kilometer-long, high-speed, inter-city rail network) – and its seaports – such as Duba Port on the Red Sea coast.
Many people have said that these are exciting times for the largest country in the Gulf Cooperation Council, but the cost of change doesn’t come cheap. Plus, the scale of developments, including associated transport infrastructure that has never been seen before in the Middle East, also comes at a price.
There have been many changes in Saudi Arabia in recent months, not only culturally, but also economically. The steady increase in the oil price has given the sovereign nation a boost, but it still maintains a goal to remove its dependency on oil. This includes the initial public offering of its own national commodity Saudi Aramco, which is being reviewed for the next few years to increase its capital ventures. Such is the passion of achieving its goals that all options will not be overlooked.
The country’s goal of adopting the latest technologies and its drive to improve its infrastructure network via every mode possible demands a workforce that is unparalleled. No mean feat for a country that is well known for importing various skills and knowledge. However, what has surprised me the most are the attitudes among Saudis — they are eager to play their part in the country’s transformation and are preparing themselves accordingly. This includes undertaking training in specialist areas to ensure men and women alike can contribute to the change.
This is a positive challenge for those in the transportation industry, and the Saudis are welcoming all nationalities to help them achieve this.
Jason Trenchfield is AECOM’s freight and logistics leader within the UAE Transport Group. Responsible for project management, he has more than 20 years’ experience in formulating operation and supply chain strategies for commercial designs, construction and material logistics strategies, and design and commissioning for specialist buildings such as airports, rail buildings and ports.
Image credit: Newscom
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