The Ministry of Planning has issued a statement on the general goals and policies of the Kingdom's Seventh Five-Year Development Plan (2000-2004), saying these continue on the same course set up thirty years ago for the country's comprehensive development. This course arises from the overall policy of free enterprise within the context of the principles of Islam, defense of the nation, maintenance of security and social stability, diversification of revenue, and expansion of productivity in all areas of the economy.
The Seventh Plan focuses on the development of human resources. It deals with increasing the national labor force and upgrading its efficiency through training in order to meet the requirements of the nation's economy and replace expatriate workers. The plan emphasizes privatization as a strategic economic option that lowers costs, improves performance, and provides jobs for citizens.
The Seventh Plan reflects a special interest in health and social services, since healthy citizens are more productive. It also takes into consideration that with the population growth, the need for government services has increased. While there is special concern for the volunteer sector, the plan highlights the provision of educational, training, health and social welfare services. In addition, greater service is planned for visitors to Makkah, for Umrah (the minor pilgrimage), and for Hajj.
The objectives of the Seventh Plan pay attention to building up a scientific and technological database for the benefit of the country's researchers and scientists. The plan continues the concern for protection of the environment from pollution and preservation of natural resources and wildlife. The objectives include maintenance of current facilities and utilities, and for maintenance to be considered in any feasibility study. The plan recommends reducing maintenance costs through strict application of standards.
Regarding foreign policy, the Seventh Plan states that the Kingdom will enhance its relations with the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and all Arab, Islamic and friendly countries, for the mutual benefit of all, expressing confidence at the start of the upcoming century.
The basic economic aspects to be faced by the world in the 21st century can be summarized in four trends: globalization; new technology, particularly in information and telecommunications; increased use of science as a tool to realize economic benefits in the competitive climate of both domestic and international markets; and volatility in stock markets, foreign exchange rates, and costs of primary materials. The Seventh Plan takes into consideration both the direct and indirect influences of fluctuations or changes in any of these international factors in determining the Kingdom's economic development. The economy of Saudi Arabia, which is continuing with its application to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), is prepared to deal with all of them with flexibility.