Economic Growth in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a rich country that has strong economic status. It has the main reserves of oil globally which is approximately 25% of the world’s total oil supply (Albejaidi, 2010). The economy has been dependent on oil export which allows for many economic developmental aspects. Saudi Arabia have had significant economic development over the years. Currently, it focuses on the development of other economic sectors including adopting important policies to provide a favorable environment where all sectors can be stabilized. It has developed various plans which have focused on ensuring the development of a sustainable economy through improving the living standards of its citizens (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). These plans have been taken into consideration in Saudi Vision 2030 with an aim of a thriving economy that rewards opportunities, invests long term goals, opens for business and improves healthcare quality (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). Therefore, this paper describes the relationship between economic growth in Saudi Arabia and the higher quality of healthcare. Also, the opportunities for policy-makers in the Ministry of Health (MOH) to improve healthcare. Besides, the key aspects of healthcare economy in Saudi Vision 2030.
Saudi Vision 2030
Saudi vision 2030 is a strategic tool that provides the kingdom with a detailed framework to focus on improving the economic development. The strategic location of Saudi Arabia makes the vision 2030 realistic especially based on the implementation of the plan in which the Council of Economic and Development Affairs is responsible for evaluating and monitoring (Felemban et al., 2017).The vision 2030 is based on important elements that include reduction of the country’s dependence on oil, embrace economic diversity through the integration of strategic economic measures and improve the public service sectors with a key emphasis on health, education, infrastructure and tourism (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). The different provisions addressed in Saudi Vision 2030 aims at creating a sustainable economy that is developed on strong economic pillars capped with positive public engagement (Wilson & Graham, 2016).
Saudi Arabia aims for a thriving economy through building a strong education system affiliated with population needs and creating economic opportunities for investments and large corporations to take place (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). It is important to consider that education is the most powerful investment in future of Saudi Arabia. Education is an important determinant of health that leads to good health, empowerment and better opportunities of employment (Brandt, 2015). It helps to build more aware and strong societies in which women are building a better future for their children (World Health Organization, 2009). Educated parents often promote better health of their own children through education, encouragement and awareness (Noble et al., 2015). Investing in educating, training and developing young population is needed for future jobs and better economy in the country.
Another aspect that helps to develop the economy in the country is employment. Employment is an important social determinant that affects the health of individuals, families and communities (Benach et al., 2014). Saudi government have launched the National Labor Gateway (TAQAT) which is a key nationwide initiative to build the main virtual labor market platform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (TAQAT, 2018). TAQAT aims to offer better employment opportunities, training and development services to develop the labor force effectively and efficiently (Alyamani, 2016).
Saudi Arabia is planning to establish sector councils to accurately recognize the talents, skills, knowledge and capabilities required by every socio-economic sector (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). Providing professional training and scholarship opportunities are needed to serve population priorities as well as focusing on advanced technologies, innovation and investments. Diversify in economy will allow for growing job opportunities, attracting skillful and highly qualified employees as well as top investments globally (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). This will improve quality of services provided including healthcare services and improve business environment. Preparing right environment for economic growth and development based on population needs is important aspect in Saudi Vision 2030.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are considered important agents of Saudi economic development. Adaileh (2012), mentioned that “The SMEs sector as a whole can galvanize an entire economy”. (p.169). SME sector can create employment opportunities, support innovation and enhance exports (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). In Saudi Arabia, SMEs are not main contributors to the country’s Gross domestic product (GDP). Therefore, Saudi government established the SME Authority to encourage young entrepreneurs to participate in business, provide them with easier access to funding, share of national gaining and government bids (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b).
Saudi Arabia pays attention to the skills and abilities of productive families in which the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) added productive families’ file as a new drive of Saudi economy. Now, productive families’ file is considered one of the important files that a lot of economists focus on the effective participation of Saudi families in Saudi economy (CSC, 2018). Productive families don’t have official and secured jobs, they work at home in different fields such as cooking and art crafting to earn money that support their families. Productive families sell their products and increase their income to offer their children better healthcare services that they can afford. Therefore, Saudi government considers productive families’ file as basic right to work and earn money. Saudi government encourages the work of productive families, builds their abilities and funds their initiatives to enjoy marketing opportunities through internet websites, social media and digital platforms (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b).
Saudi Vision 2030 focuses on the concept of equality to improve Saudi economy in which Saudi government established Job Creation and Anti-Unemployment Commission. This includes providing opportunities for everyone, so they can contribute to the best of their abilities (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). Also, providing equal training and job opportunities make the most of the workforce potential for high performance and effectiveness. All these plans can improve Saudi economy including healthcare economy which is related to improve population health.
Saudi women are powerful contributors to Saudi economy. Over 50% of Saudi university graduates are female (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). Developing their talents, strengthen their future and investing in their productive abilities and knowledge will contribute to the development Saudi economy. Especially, taking care of their children, educating them and helping them to be aware of their rights and health. Women have the power to protect future generations. World Health Organization (2009), mentioned “woman today is an investment not just for the present but also for future generations”. (p.3). It is important to consider that women driving licenses are expected to boost the Saudi economy. One of the goals addressed in Saudi Vision 2030 is to increase number of Saudi nurses and health allied professionals including females per 100,000 people (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016a). Also, to increase the attractiveness of nursing and medical support career pathways to overcome the challenge of healthcare workforce shortage (AlYami, 2014).
The Status of Economic Growth in Saudi Arabia
The realization that the country has limited oil deposits has provided a very different focus on achieving sustainable economic development. Saudi Arabia has had a steady GDP averaging at 1.04 from 201 to 2017 (Trading Economics, 2018). The country has an oil-dependent economy where shipments of oil products account for approximately 87% of the total exports, which represent approximately 46% of the country’s GDP (Trading Economics, 2018). In order to achieve sustainable economic growth, Saudi government has been actively participating in using the oil revenues to expand different sectors such as telecommunications, petrochemicals, power generation sectors as well as natural gas exploitation in such for alternatives to oil (El Bcheraoui et al., 2015).
The country has embarked on a post-oil era where the country is expected to rely on its megacities to sustain the country’s economic growth. The development of the cities is based on creating a very attractive focus to foreign investors who will provide better focus regarding business allowing for effective consideration of economic development (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vision 2030, 2016b). Industrial cities have been identified as the solution to the existing economic challenges which limit the overall focus on positive development based on economic growth.
In 2017, Saudi government announced that it had focused on building a mega city worth approximately $500 billion (Garfield, 2017). The city is expected to run on 100% renewable energy as well as crucial focus on go green initiative based on global standards. The project is expected to be funded largely by the government and private investors. Opening up the country to foreign investors has provided a favorable environment through the development of favorable policies, which have been positively engaged to create a conducive environment where it would be possible to achieve sustainable economic growth (Mahalik, Babu, Loganathan & Shahbaz, 2017). The main objective of diversifying the country’s economy and ensure that it is less dependent on crude oil.