The Current

Saudi Arabia announces plan to end 'addiction' to fossil fuels

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 30-year-old who is second in line to the throne in Saudi Arabia, wants to wean the kingdom off oil. He says the country's oil addiction is dangerous and announced big changes with an ambitious "Vision 2030" plan.
Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced his economic reform plan known as "Vision 2030" to restructure the kingdom's oil-dependent economy. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

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"The oil today became like the constitution — the holy book, the Sunnah , and the oil — and that is very dangerous.  We have addiction to oil in Saudi Arabia. Everyone has it." - Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

It may be hard to picture Saudi Arabia without oil, but that is what Mohammed bin Salman is selling in his "Vision 2030" plan. It would mean big changes for a kingdom synonymous with oil— and oil wealth.

At a time when crude prices are low and the world is focused on cutting carbon, the plan sees Saudi Arabia setting up a massive sovereign wealth fund. It would make investments in the country's future source of wealth, rather than oil sales.

Construction of the King Abdullah Financial District, north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 11, 2016. (Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters)

Saudi Arabia's citizens have grown used to a lot of perks living in a wealthy oil state, such as highly subsidized fuel, water and electricity.  But the country's middle class has been watching anxiously as oil prices have fallen for months — and continued to fall.  

The "Vision 2030" includes plans to relax residency laws, build affordable housing, and even start collecting some taxes. All changes with the potential for major ripple effects inside Saudi Arabia, across the Arab World, and throughout the global economy.

Guests in this segment:

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley, Julian Uzielli and Josh Bloch.