Saudi Arabia and the World Bank have been in partnership since 1974 when the Kingdom signed a Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) Agreement establishing the World Bank office in Riyadh. This advisory services program is the oldest in the Bank. Under the agreement, upon government demand, the World Bank brings technical expertise and global knowledge to counterpart entities to support the government as it addresses development challenges. The TCP has diversified and grown over the past four years. Currently $13 million are under implementation.
Saudi Arabia is a valued, active partner of the World Bank Group. Through its contributions to select funds, it reinforces its status as a key partner in the effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. Saudi Arabia has its own chair in the Board of Executive Directors and has been a major donor to the International Development Association (IDA) since its inception. The Kingdom’s contributions paid-in to the World Bank Group totaled US$ 330 million for FY11-FY16 Q2. In fiscal year 2016, Saudi Arabia contributed US$ 43 million to IDA.
The Bank is supporting the Saudi government across many sectors including education, health, labor markets, transport, energy, urban planning, economic management and planning, public financial management, business climate, PPPs and SME strategy. The engagements focus on strengthening institutional capacity within the government entities and assisting in developing legislation and policies.
The World Bank is also supporting the Kingdom in strategic projects related to its “Vision 2030” and the National Transformation Program 2020 (NTP).
The portfolio size has increased from around $4 million in 2010 to around $11 million in 2016.
Among the results seen by Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) engagements in Saudi Arabia is the Bank’s support to the development of National Strategies such as the National Water and Transport Strategy, the National Waste Management Strategy. Upon demand by the Saudi government, the Bank assessed water consumption and agriculture subsidies. It was clear that the wheat production industry was consuming water inefficiently. The Bank advised removing the subsidies on crops generating negative added value. Saudi Arabia stopped its local wheat production saving the Kingdom water and financial resources.
The Bank also provided support to the Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) in the areas of animal feed, good manufacturing practices, and medical devices regulation. Those engagements resulted in the automation of the licensing processes and improving inspection practices for SFDA.