Saturday, June 18th 2016
The Saudi government has issued a report, Vision 2030, that sets national goals. Its three “themes” are “A Vibrant Society,” “A Thriving Economy,” and “An Ambitious Nation.” Public Diplomacy professionals will probably be most interested in the first, which includes goals in education, values, culture and entertainment, clubs, international experiences, cultural knowledge, social skills, self-awareness, parental involvement in education, a higher rate of home ownership, and “cultural, social, volunteering and athletic activities.”
Those wanting additional details will want to consult the full text cited above, the Kingdom’s National Transformation Program 2020, and a McKinsey & Company report, “Moving Saudi Arabia’s economy beyond oil.” It’s interesting to note how Simon Henderson of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy characterized the cultural initiatives. In his June 17, 2016, essay, “Vision or Mirage? Saudi Arabia's Ambitious Economic Plans,” he wrote that “cultural and entertainment projects” are "limited at present because of objections by the religious establishment.”
Here are key quotes:
Vibrant Society With Strong Roots
- We have enormous untapped opportunities and a rich blend of natural resources, but our real wealth lies in our people and our society. We take pride in what makes our nation exceptional: our Islamic faith and our national unity. Our nation is the core of the Arab and Islamic worlds and represents the heart of Islam. We are confident that, God willing, we will build a brighter future, one based on the bedrock of Islamic principles. We will continue to excel in performing our duties towards pilgrims to the fullest and promote our deep-rooted national identity.
- The largest Islamic museum: . . . . We will build an Islamic museum in accordance with the highest global standards, equipped with the latest methods in collection, preservation, presentation and documentation. It will be a major landmark for our citizens and visitors, where they will learn about the history of Islam, enjoy interactive experiences and participate in cultural events.
- Using modern technology, visitors to the museum will take an immersive journey through the different ages of Islamic civilization, as well as its science, scholars and culture. It will also be an international hub for erudition and include a world-class library and research center.
Vibrant Society With Fulfilling Lives
- The happiness and fulfillment of citizens and residents is important to us. This can only be achieved through promoting physical, psychological and social well-being. At the heart of our Vision is a society in which all enjoy a good quality of life, a healthy lifestyle and an attractive living environment.
- Promoting Culture and Entertainment: We consider culture and entertainment indispensable to our quality of life. We are well aware that the cultural and entertainment opportunities currently available do not reflect the rising aspirations of our citizens and residents, nor are they in harmony with our prosperous economy.
- It is why we will support the efforts of regions, governorates, non-profit and private sectors to organize cultural events. We intend to enhance the role of government funds, while also attracting local and international investors, creating partnerships with international entertainment corporations. Land suitable for cultural and entertainment projects will be provided and talented writers, authors, and directors will be carefully supported.
- We will seek to offer a variety of cultural venues – such as libraries, arts and museums – as well as entertainment possibilities to suit tastes and preferences. These projects will also contribute to our economy and will result in the creation of many job opportunities.
- Our Commitments: “Daem”: meaningful entertainment for citizens. We will increase the number and variety of cultural and entertainment activities with the aim of opening dedicated venues to showcase our citizens’ myriad talents. We will also review our regulations to simplify the establishment and registration of amateur, social and cultural clubs. We will launch and provide the necessary financial support for “Daem”, a national program to enhance the quality of cultural activities and entertainment.
- The program will create a national network of clubs, encourage the exchange of knowledge and international experiences and promote better awareness of a wide range of hobbies and leisure activities. By 2020, there will be more than 450 registered and professionally organized amateur clubs providing a variety of cultural activities and entertainment events.
- Among our goals by 2030… To increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the Kingdom from the current level of 2.9% to 6%
Vibrant Society With Strong Foundations
- Our goal is to promote and reinvigorate social development in order to build a strong and productive society. We will strengthen our families, provide the education that builds our children’s fundamental characters and establish empowering health and social care systems.
- Caring for our Families: Families are the key building block of a society, protecting it from social breakdown across generations, and acting as both its children’s sanctuary and the main provider of their needs.
- One of the defining characteristics of the Kingdom is its adherence to Islamic principles and values, together with the unity and extended family relations. Building on these key characteristics, we will provide our families with all the necessary support to take care of their children and develop their talents and abilities.
- In particular, we want to deepen the participation of parents in the education process, to help them develop their children’s characters and talents so that they can contribute fully to society. Families will also be encouraged to adopt a planning culture, to plan carefully for their future and the futures of their children.
- We recognize each family’s aspiration to own a home and the important role ownership plays in strengthening family security. Even though 47 percent of Saudi families already own their homes, we aim to increase this rate by five percentage points by 2020. This would be a substantial achievement given the high increase in the number of new entrants to the housing market. We will meet this target by introducing a number of laws and regulations; encouraging the private sector to build houses; and providing funding, mortgage solutions and ownership schemes that meet the needs of our citizens.
- Developing our Children’s Character: We intend to embed positive moral beliefs in our children’s characters from an early age by reshaping our academic and educational system. Schools, working with families, will reinforce the fabric of society by providing students with the compassion, knowledge, and behaviors necessary for resilient and independent characters to emerge. The focus will be on the fundamental values of initiative, persistence and leadership, as well as social skills, cultural knowledge and self-awareness. We will also promote cultural, social, volunteering and athletic activities through empowering our educational, cultural and entertainment institutions.
- Our Commitments: “Irtiqaa”: A more prominent role for families in the education of their children. The engagement of parents in their children’s education is one of the main principles of success. Our goal by 2020 is for 80 percent of parents to be engaged in school activities and the learning process of their children. We will launch the “Irtiqaa” program, which will measure how effectively schools are engaging parents in their children’s education.
- We will establish parent-led boards in schools, to open discussion forums and further engage with parents. Teachers will receive training to raise their awareness of the importance of communicating with parents and equip them with effective methods to do so successfully. We will also collaborate with private and non-profit sectors to offer innovative educational programs and events that can improve this academic partnership.
- Our Commitments: A more impactful non-profit sector. Today, we have fewer than 1,000 non-profit and charitable foundations and associations. They contribute just 0.3 percent of our GDP, much less than the global average of 6 percent. Currently, just 7 percent of projects are focused on generating social impact or are aligned with the long-term national priorities. By 2020, more than one third of our non-profit organizations’ projects should have measurable and deep social impact. The recently published regulations on non-profit organizations and on the General Authority for Endowments will help the non-profit sector become more institutionalized, formalized and more efficient.
- We will accelerate this shift further by supporting projects and programs with high social impact and by facilitating the establishment of non-profit organizations by high net worth families, which will promote rapid growth of the non-profit sector. We will support this growth by creating a supportive and cooperate environment in which the sector’s institutions and government agencies can collaborate.
- At the same time, we will encourage the non-profit sector to apply proper governance standards, facilitate high quality training to staff and promote a culture of volunteering and full-time careers in the sector.