What makes it hard for Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy?
Being the world’s dominant oil producer and exporter, Saudi Arabia has the least diversified economy among the other petroleum-oriented countries. A rule of thumb states that resources are exhaustible and our future belongs to alternative fuel. Under such conditions Saudi government should implement required reforms ensuring wide diversification. On the other hand, the country faces dampers on economy, caused by a range of the following factors: environmental conditions, religious belief and social variable.
The country’s geographical position is considered to be unfavorable. Saudi Arabia’s geography is dominated by the Arabian Desert; consequently there are no lakes or rivers. The desert climate causes extreme temperatures. Thus, such conditions aren’t applicable for the promising agricultural development and other economic sectors related to natural resources availability.
Virtually all Saudi citizens are Muslims. Conversion to another religion carries the death penalty. According to Nicolai Ouroussoff: ’the Saudi government needs to crack the door open to some sort of Western-style modernity – or at least a softer version of the Islam practiced here, with its strictly enforced separation of the sexes, its severe restrictions on the public lives of women and the ever watchful eye of the religious police’ (Ouroussoff, 2010).
For decades, Saudi education was controlled by religious conservatives who promoted a narrow-minded brand of Islam. Graduates tended to be incurious to modernize Saudi society and its economy. (Janet Breslin Smith and Caryle Murphy, 2014). The former Saudi king Abdullah started implementing social reforms including educational. After his death on January, 2015, these reforms are to be continued, because they haven’t been completed.
In conclusion, Saudi Arabia is the world’s leading oil and gas exporting country. However, its government is interested in implementing a number of reforms for the economy diversification. This goal is complicated by geographical, religious and social aspects. Nevertheless, reforms are to be provided to save a global leadership in the nearest future.
Breslin Smith, J., & Murphy, C. (2014, November 20). The struggle to erase Saudi extremism. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/21/opinion/the-struggle-to-erase-saudi-extremism.html?_r=0
Ouroussoff, N. (2010, December 12). Saudi urban projects are a window to modernity. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/13/arts/design/13desert.html?pagewanted=1
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