The Arab nation is holding a big investment conference as it pursues an aggressive economic overhaul to reduce its dependence on oil. The country’s reform plan, spearheaded by its ambitious young crown prince, includes increasing foreign investment and selling a stake in its giant state oil company.
A year and a half into the efforts, officials have made progress on some parts of the plan — known as Vision 2030 — but also flip-flopped on others. The government has cut some subsidies, announced new taxes and lifted a controversial ban on women driving. It also tapped global bond markets three times in less than a year, borrowing billions to balance its books.
The man behind the push to modernize the conservative kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is expected to give a rare public speech on Tuesday. “There’s no doubt that [he] understands the challenge,” said Robin Niblett, director of think tank Chatham House. “You need the energy of a new generation” to confront “a social structure that is reliant upon government handouts, low tax, non-work,” he added.
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