Business

Saudi Arabia unveils plan to end country's 'addiction' to oil

Saudi Arabia has unveiled a broad plan meant to diversify the country's oil-focussed economy and boost foreign investment.

Up to 5% of state oil company to be floated on stock market

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia seen here in this June 2015 photo, has unveiled details of a plan aimed at diversifying the country's economy. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Saudi Arabia has unveiled a broad plan meant to diversify the country's oil-dependent economy and boost foreign investment.

The Saudi cabinet's approval of the plan, which is dubbed "Vision 2030," was announced by King Salman in a televised announcement on Monday.

"We have developed a case of oil addiction in Saudi Arabia," said the king's son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is in charge of long-term planning.

The plunge in world oil prices — from above $100 US a barrel to under $40 US — has cut the country's revenues and increased the pressure on it to diversify.

Part of the plan including selling off a stake in Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company. Prince Mohammed said the company was valued at more than $2 trillion US and that up to five per cent of it would be listed on the stock market.

"The vision is a road map of our development and economic goals," he said. "Without a doubt, Aramco is one of the main keys of this vision and the kingdom's economic renaissance."

The plan would also see the country boost its public investment fund to about 7 trillion riyals ($2 trillion US) from about 600 billion riyals ($160 billion US).

Prince Mohammed said the fund would become a central hub for the Saudi investment outside its borders.

The prince also said revenues from the fund will be used to develop the country's cities.

The reform plan's goals aim to tackle housing and unemployment issues, but at the same time it would push for women to play a bigger economic role in the socially conservative country.

with files from The Associated Press and Reuters

now