Riyadh Future Investment Initiative summit on schedule for next week

The Future Investment Initiative will be held in Riyadh from Oct. 23 to 25. (Future Investment Initiative website)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Riyadh Future Investment Initiative summit on schedule for next week

  • Future Investment Initiative to go ahead despite ‘disappointing’ withdrawals.
  • It will be held in Riyadh from Oct. 23 to 25.

RIYADH: Officials and business leaders including US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon are set to attend an investment summit in Saudi Arabia next week.
The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is going ahead despite the “disappointing” withdrawal of some speakers and partners.
It will be held in Riyadh from Oct. 23 to 25.
“Despite the disappointing withdrawal of some speakers and partners, we look forward to welcoming thousands of speakers, session managers and guests from around the world,” an FII spokesman said in a statement quoted by Asharq Al-Awsat.
An earlier statement gave an overview of the event, saying that “investing in transformation,” “technology as opportunity” and “advancing human potential” are among the FII’s broad themes.
Mohammed Khunaizi, a Shoura Council member, said that government and business leaders will map out a “collective vision for future” at the event.
“The FII conference has emerged as the largest investment event of its kind in the Middle East, which offers opportunities for billions of dollars in business deals besides being an educative forum,” he said.
JPMorgan chief Dimon has been quoted in media reports as saying: “I am looking forward to attending the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh to discuss innovation in technology and what it means to all of us.”
Sami A. Al-Rajhi, a Saudi business executive, said: “The FII seeks to further explore how investment will drive growth opportunities regionally and globally.
“The event will help to bring many business opportunities to the country in particular and to the Middle East in general, which will support job creation, innovation and unlock economic opportunities.”


Time to tear down Mideast trade barriers, Davos panel hears

Updated 23 January 2019
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Time to tear down Mideast trade barriers, Davos panel hears

  • Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said a move to ease movement of traffic across the border could be followed elsewhere
  • Majid Al Futtaim CEO Alain Bejjani: Now there’s this seriousness between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I hope it gets to frictionless trade

DAVOS: Amid global trade wars and the rise of protectionism, Middle East economic and business leaders on Tuesday issued a clarion call for the exact opposite: To ease customs restrictions in the region.
A panel at Davos heard how an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the UAE to boost cooperation — including the reduction of obstacles to trade across the shared border — could be a blueprint for the wider region.
Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said a move to ease movement of traffic across the border — partly through the use of technology — could be followed elsewhere. “We want to establish a reference for others to follow,” he said.
Alain Bejjani, CEO of retail and leisure group Majid Al Futtaim, said “frictionless trade” would give the region a boost.
“Now there’s this seriousness between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I hope it gets to frictionless trade,” he told Arab News on the sidelines of the Davos forum.
Bejjani declined to say whether that would involve a customs union, a common market or a common currency. Given the imposition of trade tariffs between the US and China, and the rise of Brexit, globalization — something espoused by many Davos delegates — is seen as on the wane.
But Bejjani said breaking down barriers in the Middle East could help it better compete with Western Europe and the US.
“For the past almost century now… we’ve been ingeniously working on making sure we put barriers across the Arab world. The reality is we have a market that’s as big as most of the largest markets in the world… if we’re smart enough to work together,” he told the Davos panel.
Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, agreed that Saudi-UAE cooperation was “a great template” for others to follow.
Aside from “opening up” Middle East markets, Al-Rumaihi said harmonizing regulation in the region would also be beneficial to businesses and entrepreneurs.
“If the rules are changing in each country, if they’re not harmonized, it’s very difficult… for an entrepreneur (to understand) the regulatory environment. So they don’t scale very quickly, and that’s something we need to solve,” he said. Talk of freer trade within the Middle East is especially relevant when it comes to the Palestinian territories, which are subject to Israeli occupation and blockade.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said freer movement and a reduction of duties would help the economy grow.
“We need to see our products being waived (of) customs,” he said. “We need mobility — we’re under occupation.”