Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 Is Going To Fail

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 Is Going To Fail

The plan the Saudi’s need, but not the one they deserve.
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Whether they like it or not, governments across the world are moving away from the comfortable, nurturing tit of oil and into the unknown. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest and most profitable oil producing nation, will soon also enter the void.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has decided to spearhead a lavish policy package called Vision 2030 to move the country away from its reliance and transform it into a competitive 21st century economy.

The plan seeks to reduce dependency on oil, raise productivity levels in non-oil sectors, and generate enough revenue to ease the transition. To do this, Vision 2030 expects to transition Saudi Aramco into the private sector, boost investment into non-oil sectors, and manage to quit eating so rapidly into its foreign reserves.

Three major issues stand in his way and undoubtedly seem to lead Saudi finances into the red.

The first and most obvious concern that the government has is how it will transition and finance its way out of the intricate oil machine it has created. Three things must immediately occur: the government should cut overproduction and allow the natural market price of oil to emerge, the government should give up its strategic attempts to control market share in Asia, and the government should quickly begin the process of establishing a private oil sector.

Now while the Saudi Oil Minister was relieved of his duties last week and rumors of an IPO float at around 5% of Saudi Aramco, nowhere near enough is being done to quickly salvage the country’s self-defeating scheme.

The IMF warned the Saudi government in 2015 that their current deficit spending rate would deplete the country’s foreign reserves (the money it uses for imports) in 5 years. Therefore, it needs to invest in its non-oil sectors to finance the loss in revenue from oil.

The problem with non-oil sectors of the Saudi Arabian economy are that they barely even exist. Only 29% of revenue comes from non-oil sectors, which leaves the country at the bottom of the mountain when it comes to finding a way to generate money quickly without biting into more oil.

Part of the solution contemplated for Vision 2030 is to invest large swaths of money into an emerging sector: religious tourism. Home to some of the most important Islamic cities, Mecca and Medina currently are host to nearly 12 million pilgrims each year. The government has begun development and infrastructure projects to build luxury hotels in Mecca, superhighways, and advanced experience packages for pilgrims not willing to bear the grind of the regular experience- specifically those devout followers blessed with ways and means. However, most of these developments clash with Saudi ideology deeply ingrained in values of Wahhabism.

Therefore, the most important obstacle to Vision 2030 is Saudi culture itself in every aspect of possible implication.

From birth, most Saudi nationals are cradled and reared by the government spoon. Motivation for higher productivity is not immediately apparent and most directly has to do with the lack of proper job training and education that the work force receives. Highly restrictive religious practices also leave out women from the work force and doom nearly half of the population to a domestic life.

These remaining obstacles seem minute and easy to fix, but for people who have created a culture of reliance, this will be the most difficult challenge the government tackles. Religious conformity will have to take place if the country hopes to find any way out of the hole it has dug itself into.

In short, the Saudi Arabian government is left with a distinct opportunity to start over. Rebuilding an entire country will take faith from the people, a tight control over the remaining financial measures it still has to use, and a great deal of vision to make sure it is executed in a way that works well for Saudi pockets.

Yet, Vision 2030 is symbolic of the grandiose nature of Saudi Arabia; hugely impressive but nevertheless built on sand.

The Saudi Arabian government still has to find money and attention to pay for its security concerns on both borders, all of which come at the expense of its allies, while also finding a way to increase its regional power over competing Iranian interests.

Whether it will sink its partners with them or emerge gloriously as a new power is only something time can tell.

Cover Image Credit: Travel and Adventures

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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