A report issued by the Ministry of Planning shows that over the past twenty-five years the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spent about SR 3.87 trillion (over one trillion U.S. dollars) in boosting the country’s economic and social development.
The major achievements of the five Five-Year Development Plans beginning in 1970 include an investment of more than SR 152 billion (about U.S. $ 41 billion) in industry, involving 2,303 factories. Over the last twenty-five years, 540 licenses were issued for drilling, and 15 for mining gold, porcelain clay, gypsum, and other raw materials. The Kingdom’s gold output from the Mahd Al-Dahab and Sukhaibat mines has now reached 752,000 ounces. Over the same period, the country’s electricity-generating capacity increased from 344 to 17,053 megawatt, with power connections now available to more than 2.8 million subscribers.
The country’s agricultural output has been increased through distribution to citizens of more than 2.6 million hectares of cultivable land, thus helping achieve self-sufficiency in many products. The capacity of grain silos is now 2.38 million tons, while the annual production capacity of flour mills is 1.3 million tons. The Kingdom’s desalination capacity is now 502 million gallons daily. Municipalities distribute a total of 2.8 million cubic meters of water a day, with a water distribution network of 31,500 kilometers (just under 20,000 miles).
The road network is now more than 42,000 kilometers (26,250 miles). There are 25 airports, including three international airports, which deal with more than 25 million passengers annually. More than 31.3 million tons are handled at the 137 wharves located at Saudi commercial seaports, in addition to the 55.5 million tons handled at the 45 wharves of the two industrial ports. The number of telephone lines increased from 29,000 in 1970 to 1.53 million in 1994. There are 115 television transmission stations, 23 radio stations, and 16 FM stations.
The number of government schools in the Kingdom has increased from 2,383 to 22,000, with an increase in students from 600,000 to 3.3 million, an annual growth rate of 7.1 percent. There are seven universities and 14 women’s colleges. The total number of students attending higher studies is 170,000. There are 10,000 attending vocational and 28,000 attending technical courses.
The number of government hospitals is now 279, with a total of 26,878 beds, 61,246 nurses and technical assistants, and 29,227 doctors. There are 3,254 primary health care centers. In addition, there are 164 cooperative societies, 154 sports clubs, 21 sports federations and 19 youth hostels.
The report also provided a brief overview of the main objectives and priorities of the current Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (1995-1999), pointing out that the stable and balanced Saudi economy is attracting foreign investments. The Sixth Plan aims to increase the role of the private sector in the economy, and reduce dependence on oil revenues. The Kingdom will continue to focus on strengthening its defense capabilities, and will also slash government expenditures, encourage private investment, focus on qualitative education, step up Saudization, and increase the capacity of the Universities and Technical Institutes. Under the current plan, 654,000 more subscribers will get electricity connections and lending organizations will give SR 24.1 billion (about U.S. $6.4 billion) in loans. In order to enhance confidence in the Saudi riyal, its exchange rate will be protected in international markets. Envisaging additional jobs for 191,700 people, the plan will increase job opportunities for women. Over the past twenty-five years, the number of Saudis employed has doubled, from 1.2 million in 1970 to 2.4 million in 1994.