JEDDAH: More than 59 local and international speakers will share their expertise at the first Makkah Region Economic Forum (MREF), the largest economic forum in the Middle East, which will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on May 6-7.
Dr. Hesham Al-Faleh, head of the forum’s executive committee, said preparations for the event began in full swing immediately after Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal ordered the formation of a supervisory committee headed by the deputy governor of the Makkah region, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar.
“The forum aims to encourage local and international business investments in the region’s development projects in line with Vision 2030,” Al-Faleh said.
He added that Prince Abdullah bin Bandar had held a series of meetings and directed the formation of subcommittees. Al-Faleh pointed out that the supervisory committee approved the themes of the forum, which are focused on sectors such as tourism, entertainment, health, education, industries, hospitality and Hajj and Umrah.
He said Prince Abdullah bin Bandar stressed the importance of highlighting the lucrative and unique investment opportunities in the region’s governorates.
Al-Faleh added that sessions for young entrepreneurs and small-and medium-sized enterprises have been planned to help eliminate hurdles facing such projects.
Al-Faleh noted that a development strategy aligned to Vision 2030 would be announced during the event. Responding to a question from Arab News about whether the religious privacy of the city of Makkah would be an obstacle for non-Muslim investors and speakers, Al-Faleh said non-Muslim participants, or even companies willing to take part in the forum’s discussions, can simultaneously follow the events of the forum from a hotel or a show hall in Jeddah.
“Foreign investment discussions could then be held in Jeddah on the third day of the forum. This is not an obstacle at all,” he said.
Dr. Lama Al-Sulaiman, head of the forum’s scientific committee, pointed out that more than 59 speakers, including 24 international and 35 Saudi experts, have been invited to speak at the forum.
Al-Sulaiman told Arab News: “We are so lucky that the MREF will be held in cooperation with the Makkah governorate and the chambers of commerce and industry in Jeddah, Makkah and Taif.”
She added that the Makkah region needed a massive investment drive: “The private sector and citizens want to see that movement of construction, working companies and factories, which will ultimately generate jobs.”