“Davos in the Desert 2018” to attract major international investors to Kingdom

Simona Haiduc / 25 sep 2018 / 22:10

Between 23-25 October Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh will again be flocked by over 3500 institutional investors and high-tech companies as the Future Investment Initiative 2018 (FII2018) will hit the town

The list is already impressive, bringing in names such as Blackrock, CitiBank, CreditSuisse, Softbank, Siemens, Olayan, Emaar, McKinsey etc, to Saudi Arabia to discuss the future of the Oil Kingdom, as it is stepping up its plans for an economic diversification until 2030 of unknown dimensions. As FII2017 already has shown to the attendees, the Kingdom is heading towards a totally new future, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As presented in Saudi Vision 2030, set up by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom will be weaned off from its oil addiction, heading towards a sustainable high-tech future, delivering not only economic growth and strength but also the hard-needed 6 million jobs for young Saudis.

To support the latter endeavor, the global financial elite has been invited to come to the Kingdom, experience its drastic changes and full entry to the 21st Century. As main supporter of this endeavor, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF, in close cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mines, has set up a program showing the upcoming strategic investment sectors being targeted. Based on Vision 2030, which is built on a strategy of Saudization of production and knowledge, in-Kingdom development and the inclusion of all Saudis, which means opening the total economy to female Saudis too, main targets set are impressive.

FII 2018 will bring together financial, technical and visionary parties discussing:
• Investing in Transformation – focusing on how the world’s top investors are creating new cities and transforming economies;
• Technology as Opportunity – considering how technologies are enabling new economic opportunities through personalization and industrialization at scale; and
• Advancing Human Potential – looking at a world where humans and machines work together to create safer, more productive and happier lives.

These focus areas will built upon progress made after FII2017, where the Public Investment Fund Program (2018-2020), one of twelve Vision 2030 Vision Realization Programs, was launched, targeting economic diversification and transforming the Kingdom into a global investment powerhouse. Some prime examples of FII2017 were the so-called Giga Projects, such as NEOM, the city of the future. At the 2017 edition, future initiatives also have been announced with Blackstone, SoftBank, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit.

During FII2018 more focus will be put on issues surrounding the Cities of the Future (demographic shifts, megacities, industrial shifts, education, design, and partnerships to build a more sustainable future), Connectivity (AI-driven autonomous vehicles, corporate investments, and large-scale infrastructure), Energy (large scale changes to the current energy landscape) but also Tourism, Health-Tech, Media, and Talent (Education, as this is a major concern and stumble-block for diversification).

The coming months, FII2018 could be setting the scene for the long-awaited list of projects in the Kingdom, which are expected to be in infrastructure, high-tech, manufacturing, energy and agriculture. In contrast to FII2017, which has become known as the Giga Project Party, FII2018 could be presenting the building stones on which the Kingdom will need to be built. International investors and companies should be keeping an eye on all, as a major emerging market is presenting itself. Investments are needed, but projects are available. The Kingdom will now be reaping the reward of being included in the FTSE and MSCI Emerging Markets Index, opening the doors for all.

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