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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Saudi Arabia’s investment conference set to attract movers and shakers from business world

The kingdom’s economy is set to expand by at least 2.2 per cent this year, according to the IMF

The three-day event this year taking place October 23-25 includes attendees from across the finance and technology industries. AP
The three-day event this year taking place October 23-25 includes attendees from across the finance and technology industries. AP

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund’s Future Investment Initiative conference is slated to attract movers and shakers from across the business world later this month.

Following the success of last year’s event where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans to build Neom, a $500 billion (Dh1.8 trillion) futuristic economic zone, the kingdom is set to draw thousands of participants from more than 90 countries. The Arab world’s biggest economy and Opec’s top oil exporter, is pressing ahead with its reform agenda with an emphasis on building a knowledge-based economy and developing the country’s non-oil sector whose revenue it aims to boost to 1 trillion riyals (Dh979bn) by 2030 from 163bn riyals.

The three-day event this year will take place from October 23 to 25. Though some executives said they are withdrawing attendance because of allegations regarding the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

Participants from across the finance and technology industry include:Stephen Shwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of Blackstone; Thomas Barrack, the executive chairman of Colony Capital; Jamie Dimon the chief executive of American banking giant JP Morgan Chase; Joe Kaeser, the president and chief executive of Europe’s biggest technology firm Siemens; HSBC’s John Flint; Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Masayoshi Son of SoftBank; Thomas Kennedy, the chief executive of US defence contractor Raytheon; former US Army General David Petraeus; senior executives from Mubadala Investment Company; along with regional and global heads of State Street Global Advisors, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered, Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, auction house Sotheby’s and Avram Glazer, the chairman of Manchester United.

Top executives from government entities including the world’s biggest oil exporter Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the kingdom’s sovereign investment vehicle the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi Stock Exchange, Neom, and the country’s Economy Minister Mohammed Al Tuwaijri will also feature on different panels during the three-day event.

Panel discussions will focus on a range of subjects from the value and development of human capital, how the shifting geography of investment will change the future of innovation, how the convergence of money and data changes global commerce, and how technology and globalisation is impacting the business of entertainment. Most importantly, the business leaders and government officials will discuss what economic models of privatisation the kingdom can present to bring foreign direct investment to an economy where oil still accounts for about 90 per cent of state revenues.

Riyadh expects the economy to expand 2.1 per cent in 2018 and 2.3 per cent in 2019. The International Monetary Fund forecasts growth of 2.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent in the respective years.