RIYADH — The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the world in a matter of days, disrupting societies and governments of many countries and significantly impacting social and economic structures around the world.

The post-coronavirus world will not be the same as before, as the countries of the world, especially least developed ones, will find themselves facing major economic predicament. 

It is pretty sure that this health crisis will unfold like any other previous crises, but its economic effects and repercussions are likely to have a long-lasting impact. The economies of various countries will recover at varying degrees and speeds depending on the extent of damage they suffered and their abilities to overcome them.

Hani Khashoggi, co-founder, Esrar Real Estate Development, commenting on the detrimental impact of COVID-19, said in terms of efforts to confront this pandemic and its repercussions, the Saudi government announced a package of SR120 billion to mitigate its effects and adopted a series of precautionary measures to protect the Kingdom’s citizens and residents from the disease. 

In addition, funds have also been allocated for the implementation of preventive measures; to deal with the repercussions of the pandemic outbreak; to reduce its spread; and to ensure business continuity of government entities.

Although many sectors were adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis, there are also some sectors that benefited, such as health, education, e-commerce, technology and the real estate sector, which is expected to witness an increase in demand from investors in light of the decline in prices and supplies, Khashoggi noted. This will contribute to generating more interest in the real estate market on the part of investors. 

They are becoming more and more aware about the factors that make real estate an ideal sector for investments, and the possibilities it offers as a safe source of income and an ideal avenue for the growth of capital in the long run, he pointed out.

He further said the real estate sector has received a special priority within the recent government incentives in Saudi Arabia aimed at providing all the necessary guarantees to maintain economic and social stability, which is contributing to the continuity of activity and growth in the sector. 

The government has also been keen on implementing urgent initiatives to support the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises and the economic activities that have been affected the most by the pandemic crisis. 

The size of these initiatives amounted to more than SR70 billion. This is in addition to the support program announced by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority for banks and financial institutions and small and medium enterprises at a value of SR50 billion at the current stage.

Among the sectors that will undergo transformation in the post-COVID era is also the health sector, which will receive more attention, especially in terms of high investment rates in pharmaceutical companies around the world, as well as the provision of medical services via Internet, Khashoggi said. 

Moreover, he explained that Saudi Arabia has a developed health sector that is capable of effectively meeting the needs of patients in times of crisis, thanks to the Kingdom's long-standing experience in providing health care for pilgrims and Umrah performers according to the highest international standards.

Many business fields will also depend on the technical sector to accomplish their tasks remotely, and this sector will play a great role in ensuring business continuity in general. Its role will be clearly reflected on the education sector, which will become more online in nature to further expand distance education area, leading to the establishment of more virtual schools, the co-founder of Esrar Real Estate Development said. 

Furthermore, the e-commerce sector will flourish so that online shopping becomes more than an option for members of the society, especially in light of seamless online connectivity, technology adoption, innovation and the new nature of life imposed by the crisis.

As for the lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis, they are numerous, Khashoggi averred. At the environmental level, there has been a noticeable improvement as pollution levels dropped and air quality improved after greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutant gases dropped significantly. The importance of collective behavior and social solidarity also came to the fore, as it is not possible to overcome any crisis or catastrophe without cooperation between individuals, societies and countries.

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will change the world, especially at the economic level, as some countries are likely to adopt unique economic systems to adapt to the new reality. However, what is certain is that dealing with the coronavirus crisis effectively will enable countries to overcome this crisis with merit. The failure to do so will mean catastrophic consequences for their economies for decades to come. 

Therefore, Khashoggi noted, the right response from governments, companies and individuals to this crisis and its repercussions, and the solidarity and cooperation among them can mitigate the effects of the expected economic downturn, shorten its duration and contribute to creating a stronger and more sustainable economy. — SG