To citizens of Saudi Arabia, September 23, remains an important day in their lives that is celebrated in grand style in commemoration of several decades of reformation, dedication and resilience, culminating into a strong, thriving and stable society, playing a key role on the international stage.
Ghana on Thursday joined the government and people of Saudi Arabia to mark its all-important Saudi National Day, also known in Arabic as Al-Yaomul-Watani, to commemorate the birth of modern-day Saudi Arabia, which is fast becoming the world hub for tourism, with an ambitious target of 100 million visits annually, from both domestic and foreign, for business, religious visits (Hajj and Umra expected to reach 30 million pilgrims annually by 2030) and leisure, an outstanding destination for education with full scholarship package, under its Vision 2030, a new development agenda of the kingdom.
The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Ghana, MeshalHamdanAlrogi, last Thursday hosted in Accra, highly profiled Ghanaian officials, several leaders of the Ghanaian community, members of the Diplomatic Corps and their spouses, heads of international organizations and other friends of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the Saudi National Day, Saudi citizens demonstrate their pride as united people with rich cultural heritage. The occasion in Ghana was used to rekindle the long standing bilateral relations between the two countries, which dates back to 1960.
History of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, the land of the two Holy Mosques in Islam-Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid Al-Nabawi, which anciently was in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. Over the centuries, the peninsula has played an important role in history as an ancient trade centre and as the birthplace of Islam, one of the world’s major monotheistic religions. Modern Saudi Arabia was established by Kind Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, who in 1932 issued a decree to unify the dual Kingdoms of Najd and Hejaz into Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The unification took place on the 21st day of Jummada Al-Awwal in 1351 H, which corresponds to September 23 and the day has since been variously known as Independence of Saudi Arabia
Since the formation of the Kingdom by the King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia has witnessed a tremendous transformation from underdeveloped tribal desert kingdoms into a modern, sophisticated state and a major player on the international stage, with growth propelled by the oil discovery in 1930s.
Profile of Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula, the original homeland of the Arabs, the place of origin of the Arabian language, and the historic center of Islam. Saudi Arabia is bounded by the Red Sea in the west and the Persian Gulf in the east. The country borders Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The country shares maritime borders with Bahrain, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran,and Sudan.
Saudi Arabia is the largest state in Western Asia with an area of more than 2 million km²; said to be almost four times the size of Metropolitan France or somewhat larger than Mexico.
The sparsely inhabited country has a population of 34.8 million inhabitants (in 2020), the capital and largest city is Riyadh, the spoken language is Arabic. Saudi Arabia is a country with a predominantly Muslim population. 85–95% of Saudi Arabian citizens are Sunni Muslims, 10–15% are Shia. The country is home to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city and the holy city of Al Madinah, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The kingdom is ruled by the AlSaud family along traditional Islamic lines.
Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer in the Middle East and a member of G20. The proven oil reserves in Saudi Arabia are the second largest in the world, estimated to be 266 billion barrels.
Vision 2030: The kingdom’s socio-economic development agenda
His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman launched the Vision 2030 as the first step towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s economic aspirations and transforming the lives of citizens, with additional one trillion dollars funding to wean the country’s economy from oil, along implementing much-needed reforms on three thematic areas: a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.
The Vision 2030 aims to create more than 10,000 jobs and add 3 billion Saudi riyals ($800 million) to the economy by 2030.
“Our vision is a strong, thriving and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunities for all. Our vision is a tolerant country with Islam as its Constitution and moderation as its methods. We will welcome qualified individuals from all over the world and we will respect those who have come to join our journey and success,” part of the Vision 2030 documents says.
Achievements so far chalked under Vision 2030
Monumental gains have been made in the realization of the Kingdom’s development agenda to achieve a better future for the citizens. Four years into the launch of the Vision 2030, the Saudi Arabia government is investing heavily in renewable energy from its abundance of sunlight, building smart cities and projects, including Neom in Tabuk in northwestern Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea Project and Ammala that are 100 percent powered by renewable energy.
Also, the Saudi Arabia Green Initiative aims to reduce by five percent the global green gas emission, with the plan to plant more than 10 billion trees in the country.
Through its diversification agenda, Saudi Arabia has been able to raise non-oil revenue by 45 percent, as of 2020.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund, established to promote sustainable economic development, has doubled its assets in the last four years from 400 billion Saudi Riyals to a whopping 1.5 trillion Saudi Riyals. The fund which has international and local investment accrues 150 billion Saudi Riyals to the economy annually.
Indeed, the reforms have opened up the country, as preferred destinations to tourists who are now visiting the country to enjoy the most beautiful archaeological sites, historic sites, rich culture and local and international festivals.
Saudi Arabia is now the largest market for international companies in the Middle East which are now locating in the kingdom creating more jobs, expanding the economy for participation in the Gross Domestic Product, increase in non-oil revenue.
It is a long journey for the Saudis, certainly 93 years in the life of the Kingdom is a great time for the citizens to feel proud and thankful to Allah for how far they have come. From a humble beginning of nomadic society comes a great kingdom of wealth and prosperity. On such a great occasion, it is well deserving to say: LONG LIVE SAUDI ARABIA-GHANA BILATERAL RELATIONS.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman