Human development has been at the centre of the Kingdom’s development strategy since the inception of development planning some thirty years ago. The positive trend of dispersion of the Kingdom’s development process has not only transformed the economy drastically, but has also deeply touched and transformed the lives of people.
Since several year ago, Saudi Arabia is witnessing tangible economic prosperity and progress in all domains of socio-economic development which produced tangible improvement in all human development indicators such as standard of living, health and education services, environmental conditions as well as potentials of comprehensive development.
The Kingdom adopts the development planning approach in mapping out its socioeconomic policies and programs within the framework of comprehensive five-year plans that involve two basic complementary roles: directive role concerned about state institutions and the public sector, and an indicative role concerned about the private sector.
In this regard, the Ninth Development Plan (2010-2014), sets the directions for all aspects of the country's socio-economic development for the next five years. The plan also addresses expected major challenges, along with the policies, programs and resources required to meet these challenges and to achieve development goals and objectives.
As noted in UN Country Analysis and Common Strategic Framework, Saudi Arabia has made good progress in recent years with rise in Human Development Index to 0.752 in 2010 placing it in High Human Development category. According to 2010 Human Development Report, Saudi Arabia stands as 5th Top Mover in the Human Development Index improvements and 3rd Top Mover for non-income HDI.
Developed with UNDP's support, the Ninth National Development Plan aims to reinforce the Kingdom’s progress and support its sustainability. As noted therein, Saudi Arabia relies on the oil sector for 80% of public revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings, while also facing high unemployment of 14.4% (2005).
The Kingdom seeks to diversify the economy beyond oil exports and create future employment opportunities including development of a knowledge-based economy and geographic diversification of growth and increased share of private sector-generated GDP alongside greater effectiveness of local administration.
Saudi Arabia also invests in a new generation of universities to support future employment needs. Industrialization and urbanization are leading to rising ecological footprints with policy solutions to resource scarcity a clear priority in the NDP for energy conservation, renewable energy, and water conservation as groundwater scarcity sets in and pollution impacts and climate risks to human development emerge.