More than 100 speakers confirmed for Future Investment Initiative 2018 in Riyadh

Updated 28 September 2018

More than 100 speakers confirmed for Future Investment Initiative 2018 in Riyadh

  • Speakers will shed light on the most pertinent trends shaping the global investment landscape
  • FII is a global platform focused on identifying future trends and opportunities

JEDDAH: The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) on Thursday announced more than 100 global investors, CEOs and disruptive innovators who will speak at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) 2018, which begins in Riyadh on Oct. 23.

Focusing on three core themes — investing in transformation, technology as opportunity, and advancing human potential  — the three-day event will explore a number of subjects, including how leaders from business and government can develop a collective vision for the future, how venture capital is changing the future of innovation, and how immersive technology is changing the way we live, work and create.

FII is a global platform focused on identifying future trends and opportunities, defining the future of industries and discussing how investment can contribute to overall global prosperity and development. FII speakers will shed light on the most pertinent trends shaping the global investment landscape.

Speakers announced so far include David Bonderman, Chairman and Founding Partner of TPG Capital; Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase; Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, Inc.; John M. Flint, Executive Director and Group Chief Executive of HSBC Holdings PLC; Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber Technologies Inc.; Christine Lagarde, President of the International Monetary Fund; Kai-Fu Lee, Chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures; Tong Li, CEO of Bank of China International; Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One; Jean Lemierre, Chairman of BNP Paribas; Kanetsugu Mike, President and CEO of MUFG Bank LTD; Zanny Minton-Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist; Rajeev Misra, CEO of Softbank Vision Fund, SB Investment Advisers; Steven Mnuchin, United States Secretary of the Treasury; Lubna S. Olayan, CEO and Deputy Chairperson of Olayan Financing Company; General David Petraeus, Chairman of KKR; Jeremy Weir, Executive Chairman and CEO of Trafigura Group Pte Ltd; and Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone.

Commenting on the announcement, Jamie Dimon said, “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. Overall, technology is the greatest thing that has ever happened to mankind. Artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning are helping JPMorgan Chase reduce risk and fraud, upgrade service, improve underwriting and enhance marketing across the firm. We know technology has been a great force, and for the benefit of all of us, that force should not be left unleashed.”

“Political, economic and technological changes pose individual challenges for all businesses and governments, but the most intractable problems require a truly global response,” said John M. Flint. “The public and private sectors have no choice but to work together to maximize the benefits of human ingenuity while managing its disruptive impacts. Sharing ideas and sharpening our focus on the problems we have in common are essential steps toward building a sustainable economy for all.”

Rajeev Misra said: “FII is a unique event that brings together visionaries across business, government and technology who are collectively shaping the future of global investment. We share a common ambition to create an ecosystem that harnesses the world’s most transformative technologies, to the benefit of humanity. Through the Vision Fund, we are striving to bring many of these businesses to the Middle East, which we believe will support innovation, job creation and unlock new economic opportunities. We look forward to sharing our insights with the FII community.”
Further updates about the 2018 program, partners and speakers are available at www.futureinvestmentinitiative.com.


Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 10 August 2020

Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah destination provides a taste of Japan with anime, comics, desserts and films

JEDDAH: Japanese comic books, known as manga, have captured the hearts of some Saudis so much that a 31-year-old citizen decided to give the genre’s fans a specialist Jeddah cafe so that they can pursue their passion as well as meet others who share it.

Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer who spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.
Manga cafes can be found in most cities across Japan. They are a place where people can spend hours reading manga, and they are also considered to be a cultural space where people can relax and have conversations about manga.
He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in the Kingdom. As an urban planner, he was able to grasp the Japanese concept and implement it in Saudi Arabia with a few tweaks and changes to suit the local audience.
“Manga cafés are all over Japan, albeit executed differently,” Baghlaf told Arab News. “They’re a little like internet cafés where people can spend the night. Of course, recreating that here doesn’t go along with our culture and traditions, so we recreated the concept in a way that accommodates that.”

Signature drinks
Akiba has only been open for a few months but, by the time Arab News visited the manga hotspot, people have already been flocking to the cafe to try out its signature drinks and read their favorite comics.

We have contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.

Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, Urban planning engineer

Friends and families can be seen relaxing together on the ground floor flicking through the pages of a comic book, or delving into a more accessible e-reading option as manga is still in short supply in Saudi Arabia.
Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales.
Akiba also airs popular anime and animated films throughout the day, uploading their schedule on their Twitter and Instagram pages.
Baghlaf is an avid gamer, but watching anime and reading manga is definitely on his list of favorite things to do. Keeping up with popular stories also helps him to figure out what manga volumes to acquire and which anime films to screen.
The urban planning engineer noticed the Kingdom’s approach in linking many objectives in the Vision 2030 reform plan to entertainment and, as cafes continue to draw large crowds in Saudi Arabia, he felt encouraged about going for Akiba.
“Specialty cafes are very popular here nowadays, so how am I going to be special? I went for a manga or anime cafe,” he said.
The cafe’s target audience are those who are interested in specialty coffee, manga and anime. For people with a sweet tooth there are Japanese desserts on offer, including cheesecake.

BACKGROUND

• Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer.

• He spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

• He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in Saudi Arabia.

• The name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers.

• It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.

• Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.

Baghlaf has to make frequent trips to Japan to discuss screening rights with creators in Tokyo. “We’ve contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.”
Due to the deals Baghlaf has made with distributors, he receives the episodes prior to their airing date to green-light them in terms of translation accuracy and censorship, in order not to air anything that goes against the Kingdom’s culture.
The same goes for manga. “I would bring in a story with 70-something volumes and, out of those, one book could end up with something inappropriate and I’d have to shelve the whole series.”


Baghlaf believes that the market for Japanese storytelling is massive in Saudi Arabia and continues to grow each day.
“It’s definitely popular and it’s why you see major events happening like Comic Con and Anime Expo, which I’ve been to myself with 200,000 others. It was so crowded,” he said.

Friendship
The Saudis have grown up with Japanese stories for decades, as well as slapstick US cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and the Loony Tunes that lack storytelling or arcs, according to Baghlaf. The Japanese stories have taught generations of Saudis about friendship, brotherhood, integrity and how to deal with others.
“There’s also a huge likeness between Japanese and Arabic culture. Within families, respecting those older than you whether through language, which has levels of formality where elders deserve the most respectable form when talked to and they have a lot of respect for familial bonds as well.”
The cafe owner revealed that the name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers. It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.
Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.