Saudi Arabia prepares for post-oil era with world’s largest sovereign wealth fund

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Saudi’s deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has unveiled plans for a giant $2 trillion fund to prepare the country for a world without oil.

To help wean itself off oil, Saudi will sell shares in the parent company of Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, which will be publicly listed from 2017/2018.

Bloomberg editor-in chief John Micklethwait had a five-hour conversation with the prince in which “he sketched out his plan for the kingdom – he has this obsession about moving the Saudi economy away from oil and basing it around something new.”

Micklethwait added: “This $2 trillion fund into which Aramco will go is an amazing thing…it’s enough to buy Google, Microsoft, Alphabet, the whole lot of them, and they’d still have change to spare. It’s more than twice as big as any other sovereign wealth fund.”

Bin Salman has also cut oil subsidies as he looks to transform the country’s economy, in what Micklethwait called “a dramatic plan”.

King Salman ran the oil-rich country as the world’s largest crude exporter; but now his son, prince bin Salman, aims to reform Saudi Arabia to prepare it for a fossil-fuel-free planet.

He told Bloomberg: “IPOing Aramco and transferring its shares to PIF will technically make investments the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil.

“What is left now is to diversify investments. So within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”

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Photo credit: Yasser Abusen from Flickr

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