For three days earlier this week, more than 6,000 delegates from more than 30 nations listened to some 275 speakers from around the world, all focused on Saudi Arabia, its Future Investment Initiative, and realising business opportunities that, on the first days of the summit alone, totalled more than $15 billion (Dh55.05 billion) in value.
In any language, that’s a good day’s work indeed. In Saudi Arabia, it’s just one strand in a strategy that will transform the kingdom in a leading economic powerhouse in this hemisphere. And what’s good for Saudi Arabia is good for the UAE — a strategic long-term partner.
Observers refer to the Future Investment Initiative as ‘Davos in the desert’ — a gathering that this year attracted the attendance of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other world leaders.
The summit is an initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who plans to diversify the kingdom’s economy while reducing its economic dependence on petroleum products. It’s part of his far-sighted and ambitions Vision 2030 plan that has already resulted in an increase in all significant economic indicators and is bringing social change as well.
The summit is an initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who plans to diversify the kingdom’s economy while reducing its economic dependence on petroleum products.
In addition to changing the very nature of business and economic activity in the kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammad also plans to put Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest producer of petroleum products, on the open market, with a portion of the energy giant now going to an initial public offering process.
Make no mistake, the strategic vision being overseen by Crown Prince Mohammad and reinforced by last week’s summit, is transforming the Saudi economy broadly. Aramco’s IPO combined with the billions in deals signed last week clearly shows where the future is and that investors from around the world want to be part of wide-scale changes underway in the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s activities are changing perceptions of this region around the world. It is a place that is open for business, and there is opportunity in Saudi Arabia for growth and a significant return on investment. Economic change is bringing social change too.
All can drive, cinemas are opening, and Saudi Arabia is now promoting itself as a unique tourist destination, one off the paths so beaten by tourists elsewhere. The relationship between the UAE and Saudi Arabia is based on long-standing ties, bonds forged as kinship, and one that will further benefit from the economic and social ties between the two nations.