Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

World Economic Forum: Saudi Arabia to announce five more public-private projects in next four months, Finance Minister says

The comments were made at a session titled 'Next Steps for Saudi Arabia' at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia's finance minister, gestures as he speaks during a panel session on day three of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Bloomberg
Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia's finance minister, gestures as he speaks during a panel session on day three of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia will announce five public-private partnerships projects in the next four months, the country's Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan said on Thursday.

He also said the initial public offering plan of state oil company Saudi Aramco is important but not essential.

"From a budget point of view, it has zero impact...[the Saudi Public Investment Fund] PIF is moving and continuing with its plans, it was banking for potential revenue from the IPO but it has other sources," he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The kingdom's sovereign wealth fund might sell its shares in Sabic, the Arab world's largest petrochemical manufacturing company, to Aramco, he added.

Referring to public-private partnerships, which look to diversify the country's economy, Mr Al Jadaan said "we have seen five in the last four months and we will see another five in the next four months." Earlier this month at Abu Dhabi Sustainability week, Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid Al Falih said the country will tender at least 12 projects across the renewable value chain in 2019 alone.

Saudi Arabia's economy grew by 2.3 percent in 2018 and the kingdom reduced the budget deficit from nine percent to five percent – as set out at last year's forum, Mr Al Jadaan said.

The panel also featured Mohammad Al Tuwaijri, the Minister of Economy and Planning who said "consistency, confidence and creativity," will be the focus this year. There must be consistency in the implementation of policy, confidence by providing evidence of the country's progress, and creativity in finding solutions, he said.

Business leaders said the reforms were ambitious and praised the work so far.

Saudi's economic reforms are like "changing the wheels on a car while it is still driving at sixty miles an hour," the chief executive of Morgan Stanley James Gorman said.

"International investors looking at the market admire the scope of the vision and common sense of becoming a modern society if it is truly going to be a centre of financial markets in the region...but it is a process and it is going to have some fits and starts," Mr Gorman said.

Business leaders, politicians and non-profit organisations gathered in Davos this week to discuss Globalisation 4.0, a term widely used to describe the disruptive powers of digitisation on industries, the global economy and way of life.

Five political and business leaders in Saudi Arabia were on the panel, which was also chaired by the director of Chatham House, Robin Niblett. It was the third year there had a been such a session on Saudi Arabia.

The panel included Saudi Arabia's Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan; Chairwoman of the Saudi Stock Exchange, Sarah Al Suhaimi; Chairman of Total, Patrick Pouyanne; Minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammad Al Tuwaijri and CEO of Morgan Stanley, James Gorman.

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a revolutionary transformation under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030, which has seen economic and social reforms reshape the country since 2016.

Vision 2030 seeks to reduce the country's reliance on oil, foster private sector investment, reskill their population and encourage women to take a greater role in society.

Cinemas opened in the country last year and women were given the right to drive.

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Updated: January 24, 2019 04:14 PM

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