Saudi Arabia's Financial District gets a facelift as the economy shifts focus and the country's powerful young prince tries to end its addiction to oil. Joel Flynn reports.
A glossy new financial district rising in the desert on the outskirts of the Saudi capital Riyadh. But some believe it could be a white elephant in the making - an extravagant symbol and the culmination of a decades-long oil price boom. Expected to be delivered years late, costing around $10 billion, and lacking tenants. Nonetheless it's hoped the King Abdullah Financial District will attract an international business elite whose investments will help stimulate the kingdom's economy at a time when the country is looking to move away from its dependence on oil. Whether it can do so in a country widely seen abroad as a difficult place to live and work may prove a litmus test for the Kingdom's broader hopes of change. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is hoping to end the Kingdom's addiction to oil, and transform it into a global investment power. SOUNDBITE: Worldfirst Chief Economist, Jeremy Cook saying (English): "These plans are momentous, they're historic, to really turn around the Saudi economy away from oil. And we've started to see with the move of the oil minister out of his role, things are really starting to kick off." Salman's "Vision 2030" plans to raise non-oil revenue to $160 billion by 2020, and $267 billion by 2030. That's compared to $43.6 billion last year. SOUNDBITE: Worldfirst Chief Economist, Jeremy Cook saying (English): "The moves that they're making at the moment are certainly very, very positive. But it's 2016 now and these plans are for 2030 so there's fourteen years where a lot of this could go wrong." But as the world weans itself off oil, it's a transition Saudi will be banking on working.