“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has embarked on an epic journey of transformation.”

King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud have charted a course for Saudi Arabia’s economic future. Vision 2030 delivers a broad strategy to advance the Kingdom’s progress based upon its rich history, values, and traditions. The strategy introduces three pillars that enable the Kingdom to shape its future and influence the region by: 1) remaining the Heart of the Arab and Islamic world; 2) creating a Diverse and Sustainable Economy; and 3) becoming a Global Trade & Commerce Hub. More importantly, Vision 2030 aligns the Kingdom’s objectives with the aspirations of Saudi society, and simultaneously reassures the international community of the Kingdom’s openness and awareness through their domestic and regional engagement.

The National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 builds upon the solid foundation established in Vision 2030. It presents an action plan to identify the challenges faced by government bodies in the economic and development sectors. NTP 2020 translates broad strategic objectives into initiatives that evaluate challenges and measure key performance indicators. This is accomplished through an operating model that is broken into five distinct phases. Phases 2 and 3 are the most critical to the overall success of the program. Phase 2 involves Developing Initiatives Designed to Reach the Strategic Objectives and Phase 3 involves Developing Detailed Implementation Plans for the Initiatives.

Both Vision 2030 and NTP 2020 deliver high-level vision, overarching strategies, national branding, and broad socio-political themes. They are informed by outside consultants and based upon western approaches, methods, and best business practices. This crucial first step informs multinational corporations on due diligence. It also provides a glimpse into the unique operational requirements for conducting business within the Kingdom and promotes foreign direct investment.

“Saudi Arabia has a rich tradition of respect for its diverse communities.”

Implementing Vision 2030 and NTP 2020, however, requires a nuanced approach tailored to Saudi Arabia’s diverse population and traditions, long-standing history, and complex regional political dynamics. This requires an additional element that the Saudi leadership has recognized: the necessity for broader engagement with Saudi society (i.e. growing youth population, women, unemployed and expatriate workers).

How the Kingdom’s leadership and government ministries communicate their initiatives with the citizens of Saudi Arabia is critical to achieving Vision 2030 objectives. Messages must speak to the population’s needs, address concerns, and demonstrate value for all of the individuals and stakeholder groups that Vision 2030 is designed to support. Programs and communications must be continuously monitored and evaluated in order to evolve in response to the population’s feedback as the plan unfolds.

A population-centric engagement strategy that reflects historic values and addresses contemporary challenges will add immeasurable value to the existing achievements of Vision 2030 and NTP 2020. When integrated into existing activities, this engagement strategy creates a wide-ranging but consistent method that enables the Kingdom to anticipate, monitor, and mitigate potential obstacles. It aligns specific initiatives and their impacts across Saudi Arabia’s diverse population through powerful narratives. This strategy shapes perceptions and prepares the population and the government for the potential social implications of each program. Most importantly, it is used to reinforce activities defined in Phases 2 and 3 of NTP 2020.

“We will strike with an iron hand those who target the minds and thoughts…of our dear youth.” – King Salman

The Kingdom’s uniqueness provides an advantage over other countries that have previously attempted ambitious economic and social transformation. Saudi Arabia’s steadfast leadership, abundant natural resources, international tourism, rich culture, and diverse population set it apart and provide the tools necessary to fulfill Vision 2030. Moreover, only Saudis will be able to capitalize on the past successes and failures of other countries’ transformation plans to accelerate beyond the NTP 2020 and achieve Vision 2030’s objectives.

A population-centric approach demonstrates the resolve and determination of the Kingdom’s leadership to reassure all stakeholders in Saudi society of their openness and awareness. It delivers a unique, proactive method to communicate with all stakeholder groups, and is the critical factor to the overall success of any program or initiative. A sophisticated engagement strategy builds traction incrementally with communities and demographics (i.e., youth, women, reformists, and traditionalists alike). It informs the development of culturally attuned, sustainable programs that reinforce internal security efforts. Moreover, it is responsive to the aspirations of contemporary Saudi society and creates value that enhances people’s lives in accordance with Saudi norms and customs.

“A narrative-based strategy demonstrates the benefits of transformation, enables the people to see the positive and lucrative possibilities for the future, and helps the Kingdom achieve the objectives of Vision 2030.”