Riyadh's ambitious Vision 2030 aims to fix Saudi Arabia's economic woes, creating jobs and diversifying the economy.

However, in the first quarter of this year, unemployment rose more than 1 percent from the same period last year, according to official data. The kingdom's unemployment rate has now reached 12.7 percent.

Over 900,000 Saudis are seeking jobs, 219,000 men and 687,500 women. Here's a closer look at the steps the kingdom is taking to address the issue.

1. The kingdom has promised to create more jobs

Through Vision 2030, the kingdom aims to diversify the economy, creating more opportunities for Saudis. Particularly aiming to advance the kingdom's tourism, entertainment, defense and tech sectors, the plan promises to create thousands of new jobs for Saudi citizens over the next decade.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Western tech giants, including the leaders of Facebook and Microsoft, last year in an effort to open up more tech opportunities to young Saudis. In May, the crown prince also announced a new Saudi defense company would create some 40,000 jobs.

Prince Mohammed also wants to encourage more entrepreneurship in the kingdom. In an effort to do so, he announced the creation of Prince Mohammad bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship last summer.

2. Riyadh wants Saudis to take expat jobs

A Saudi participating in a technical course Source: Twitter/tvtcweb

Around 20 to 30 percent of the kingdom's residents are expats, comprising a major part of the Saudi workforce. As Saudi Arabia grew and developed rapidly over the past several decades, these expats were key to building the country. 

Now, with a better-educated population and a changing economic reality, the kingdom aims to fill jobs currently taken by expats with Saudi nationals. In recent months, Riyadh has taken major steps toward this goal.

In April, the kingdom announced that foreigners would no longer be allowed to work at shopping malls. Similarly, in May, Riyadh revealed that all expats working in the public sector would need to be replaced by Saudi nationals within three years

The kingdom has also launched short technical courses, with the aim of training Saudis with the necessary skills to take jobs currently filled by expats.

3. Low oil prices have taken their toll on the economy

The Saudi economy is dependent on oil Source: Flickr/Day Donaldson

The Saudi economy has been feeling the strain of low oil prices over the past couple of years. A 2016 report suggested that the kingdom will fall into an economic recession in 2017, for the first time since 1999.

Although 2016 turned out better than experts expected, the kingdom still ran a deficit, forcing it to dig deep into its massive foreign reserves. Riyadh also sold billions in debt and temporarily cut financial perks to some public sector employees.

In February, it was reported that prices were sinking in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom faced deflation for the first time in more than a decade.

Despite the struggles, Business Insider reported that the kingdom will be among the 20 most powerful economies in the world in 2030, ranked 13th. The publication also said the kingdom will remain firmly in the top 20 until at least 2050.

4. The new Saudi crown prince leads the charge

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

As the driving force behind Vision 2030, Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seen by many Saudis as the key to the kingdom's economic future. At just 31 years old, Prince Mohammed inspires the Saudi youth, who make up the majority of the country's population.

The prince is seen as a modernizer, aiming to open up the kingdom and diversify the economy through ambitious and bold reforms. In addition to addressing economic issues, the prince's Vision 2030 plan aims to increase entertainment and cultural opportunities, while addressing social issues in the kingdom.