The 4th edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, often referred to as the Davos of the Desert, is taking place right now in a completely dematerialized version because of the health measures in place in Saudi Arabia. This prestigious event, with its varied themes and speakers, provides valuable insights into the global economic situation and its future every year. Here are a few selected pieces...
Structural changes to welcome foreign investors
One of the most eagerly awaited presentations was undoubtedly that of Yasir Othman al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). Rightly so, since it announces the Kingdom’s strategic economic orientations for the years to come. And it would seem that the watchword is optimism. “Every crisis intensifies innovation and forces productivity to increase,” even said Khalid Al-Rumaihi, the CEO of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company. Indeed, despite the obvious crisis being experienced by the world due to the repercussions of the unprecedented health measures put in place by authorities around the world, the FIP is considering major investments, initially across the entire technological spectrum, followed by the tourism and real estate sectors.
Yasir Othman al-Rumayyan, FIP governor
Resolutely turned towards the future (the main theme of this year’s forum is “Neo-Renaissance”), the governor recalled that investments would be at the origin of the economic revival. Recalling the fundamental difference between the real economy and the financial markets, al-Rumayyan stressed the diversification of investments in Saudi Arabia and made these remarks, which were encouraging for potential foreign investors: “The Saudi government is keen to attract investors, which is why we are in the process of modifying and changing the laws. We also plan to grant even more tax exemptions to international investors. This is good news, especially for France, where the Bpi has just signed a partnership agreement to further open the Saudi market to French companies.
Bruno Le Maire
Learning the lessons of Covid and moving forward
Admittedly, the world is still half (perhaps even more) paralyzed by Covid-19, but this is no time for self-pity. If we decide that the crisis is a vector of opportunities, how can we seize them? During his intervention at the IFI, the French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire identified three important lessons to be drawn from this experience. The first is that it is “absolutely essential to support economies quickly and decisively“. The second is that it is essential to build a common front, the Minister said, recalling that major economic decisions are taken on a European scale. Finally, the third lesson that the Mayor focused on was the need for sustainable development and growth: “We can no longer have the same kind of growth that we had before the crisis. It is necessary to invest more in new technologies and innovation in order to emit less CO2 and to have a sustainable economy”. Let’s hear it…
Diversification of the economy, now more than ever
Still very keen to get rid of its dependence on oil by developing alternatives, Saudi Arabia continues to rely on the tourism sector. In concrete terms, this translates, for example, into the launch of Cruise Saudi, the organization that will welcome tourists on the coasts and off the Red Sea to help them discover the country’s immense potential, and thus place it on the map of tourist destinations efficiently and sustainably.
The company will have its headquarters in Jeddah, but will also cover the entire western part of the country, with the aim of helping tourists to discover the many archaeological sites scattered throughout the country. Between cruises and stopovers, tourists will be able to discover all the riches that Saudi Arabia has to offer.
Of course, the country does not bet everything on tourism. It also plans to invest in technology, renewable energy, waste treatment and other key sectors. And Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said: “For us, diversification is a win-win situation. Helping the economy to grow will increase the tax base, which means more revenue for the government and enables it to provide better services to the people and citizens of Saudi Arabia”.