Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" is the Kingdom's most comprehensive economic reform package in its history. Put forward by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, Vision 2030 aims to privatize entire sectors, raise non-oil revenues, cut subsidies, and streamline government services, among other reforms.
But the challenges are significant, including moving Saudi nationals out of the government sector and into private employment, employing higher numbers of women, and raising taxes. In the process, the plan upends the Kingdom's long-held social contract, which guaranteed its citizens most of their needs in return for their support.
The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Conflict Management Program at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosted a discussion examining the economic and political implications of Vision 2030 with Hala Aldosari (Arab Gulf States Institute, ASGIW), Anthony Cordesman (CSIS), Fahad Nazer (AGSIW), and Jean-Francois Seznec (MEI and SAIS). Gerald Feierstein (MEI) moderated the discussion.
Visiting Scholar, Arab Gulf States Institute
Hala Aldosari is a Saudi Arabian women's rights advocate and a visiting scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. In May, The Freedom House honored her as recipient of the 2016 Freedom Award. She has worked as a medical scientist, lecturer, and an administrator in the Saudi health and education sector. She has also worked as a consultant to the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia, where she researched and planned the country's national health policy and services. She currently directs and maintains a women's rights advocacy project online. Her writings have been featured in several major media outlets including The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and Al Jazeera English, among others.
Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Anthony Cordesman holds the Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and is a respected national security analyst of long experience. During his time at CSIS, Cordesman has been Director of the Gulf Net Assessment Project and the Gulf in Transition Study, as well as Principal Investigator of the CSIS Homeland Defense Project. He is a former professor of national security studies at Georgetown University and fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He served as national security assistant to Senator John McCain on the Senate Armed Service Committee and as a civilian assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Non-resident Fellow, Arab Gulf States Institute, and Senior Poltiical Analyst, JTG Inc.
Fahad Nazer is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington as well as a political analyst with intelligence consultants JTG, Inc., where he focuses on political, social, and economic developments in Saudi Arabia. He also examines militant Islamist groups in the Arabian Peninsula, with a special focus on Saudi Arabia. Previously, Naher worked as a political analyst at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. His publications have appeared in Foreign Affairs , T he New York Times , CNN , Foreign Policy, YaleGlobal Online, The National Interest, and Al-Monitor. He was also feaured in The Kingdom: Saudi Arabia and the Challenge of the 21st Century (Columbia University Press, 2009).
Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Non-resident Senior Scholar, Middle East Institute, and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown McDonough School of Business
Jean-Francois Seznec is a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and an adjunct professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown. Dr. Seznec has 25 years of experience in international banking and finance, of which ten years were spent in the Middle East, including six years in Bahrain as a banker. His research centers on the influence of the Arab-Persian Gulf political and social variables on financial and oil markets in the region. He serves as the senior advisor to Petroleum Finance Company Energy (PFC) and is the founding member and Managing Partner of the Lafayette Group, LLC., a U.S.-based private investment company.
Gerald Feierstein (Moderator)
Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Gulf Affairs, Middle East Institute
Gerald "Jerry" Feierstein retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in May 2016 after a 41-year career. At the time of his retirement, Feierstein held the personal rank of career minister. In 2010, President Obama appointed Feierstein U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, where he served until 2013. From 2013 until his retirement, Feierstein was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. In addition to his career-long focus on the Near East and South Asia, Feierstein also played a prominent role in developing and implementing State Department policies and programs to counter violent extremism. As deputy coordinator and principal deputy coordinator in the State Department’s Counter-Terrorism bureau, Feierstein led the development of initiatives to build regional networks to confront extremist groups.