Saudi Arabia confirms plans to list Saudi Aramco

The powerful young prince overseeing Saudi Arabia's economy unveiled ambitious plans on Monday aimed at ending the kingdom's "addiction" to oil and transforming it into a global investment power.

The new plan also outlines the kingdom's vision to boost tourism.

He said Saudi Arabia can live without oil and by 2020, kingdom won't be dependent on oil.

Prior requirements that the king approve all contracts over 100 million riyals ($26.7 million) got looser and looser - first to 200 million, then to 300 million, then to 500 million, and then, Al-Sheikh says, the government suspended the rule altogether.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed plans to set up a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund that would be managed by a board of directors, and not Aramco. The move Saturday comes less than six months after the government cut subsidies on water, electricity and other utilities.

"When King Abdul Aziz founded the Saudi Kingdom (in the 1940s), there was no oil", he remarked.

In the wide-ranging interview, Mohammed bin Salman described the country as having become addicted to oil and said a planned partial initial public offering of the state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco was part of the reform program.

"We are speaking about more than $2 trillion".

The fund will diversify into nonpetroleum assets, hedging the kingdom's almost total dependence on oil for revenue.

"There are some important changes here, including the detailed information about what the leadership actually has in mind for Saudi Aramco", Kinninmont said.

The plan also includes major structural reforms, privatisations and efforts to increase efficiency, he said.

"People used to be unhappy that files and data of Aramco are undeclared, unclear and not transparent".

Subsidy cuts, already under way, look set to be challenging, with Saudis used to cheap petrol, water and energy - while polls show they still expect them to continue.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the kingdom's former intelligence chief, told CNN that Obama's conduct and declarations have made Saudi Arabia realise that the relationship has changed. Obama is now negotiating with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar to promote their cause. Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security advisor said that recent strains between the USA and Saudi Arabia were over tactics rather than goals.

Saudi Arabia is maintaining investments in oil production as the kingdom pursues a strategy to defend market share amid a global glut.

The plan could raise the country's share of non-oil exports in non-oil gross domestic product to 50% from 16%, CNBC reports.

Many practical details have trickled out over past weeks.

The International Monetary Fund, which expressed concern about Saudi economic policy in the past, praised the plan hours before its public release. "If it is not at the top of the list, why not?"

He said he has no problem with the official religious authority on the issue of women driving.

"The vision is not a dream, it's a reality that will come true", he said.

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