Kushner: There is a need to invest in future of Middle East

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is seen on a screen as he attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Updated 30 October 2019

Kushner: There is a need to invest in future of Middle East

  • Regional leaders are ‘trying to make better lives for people’
  • Kushner said there were 200-250,000 more jobs since Trump came into office

RIYADH: Terrorism is discouraging foreign investment in the Middle East region, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the US president has told the Future Investment Initiative 2019 (FII 2019) in Riyadh, adding that the region’s leaders needed to look to the future opportunities.
Speaking to a packed main hall, Kushner also spoke of the Palestinian conflict, and said Israel could not be blamed for all the problems in the region.
And he added: “What holds back investors is terrorist issues.”
In June 2019, Kushner hosted the Bahrain conference, aimed at bringing peace to Palestine in part of what was tagged the “deal of the century,” in which companies were encouraged to invest millions in the region. He said they eventually raised $25 billion of pledged investment.
Kushner said the aim had been to achieve “focus,” which he said he believed was achieved.
But he said terrorism continued to be a recurring problem in the Middle East.
Referring to the FII 2019, he said: “I think this forum is great progress. We talk about the problems here, but we never mention what potential the region has.”
He said there was a need to invest in the future of the Middle East and create more jobs and opportunities.
Kushner said the region’s leaders were “trying to make better lives for people.”

There is a need to invest in the future of the Middle East and create more jobs and opportunities.

Jared Kushner, Senior adviser to the US president

Asked about America’s domestic issues and the upcoming presidential election, he said the economy was “doing very well,” although he did not mention the recent slow down in manufacturing in the US. “Enthusiasm for the president is more so now than ever before.”
 He said the Trump election campaign would be “very strong” in the second election, explaining that he was “new to politics” when he first contested the polls.
“The country really likes the policies the president has followed. But there is a lot more to do and I hope the people give the president a chance to do that.”
He said he believed the president’s popularity was growing because he “speaks directly to the American people.”
He said there were 200-250,000 more jobs since Trump came into office. And he said that the US and China had come to an understanding.
“Our biggest problem in the country is that we don’t have enough workers,” he said, adding: “It’s been a transformational period.”

 


Saudi Arabia looks to cut spending in bid to shrink deficit

Updated 30 min 29 sec ago

Saudi Arabia looks to cut spending in bid to shrink deficit

  • Saudi Arabia has issued about SR84 billion in sukuk in the year to date

LONDON: Saudi Arabia plans to reduce spending next year by about 7.5 percent to SR990 billion ($263.9 billion) as it seeks to reduce its deficit. This compares to spending of SR1.07 trillion this year, it said in a preliminary budget statement.

The Kingdom anticipates a budget deficit of about 12 percent this year falling to 5.1 percent next year.

Saudi Arabia released data on Wednesday showing that the economy contracted by about 7 percent in the second quarter as regional economies faced the twin blow of the coronavirus pandemic and continued oil price weakness.

The unemployment rate among Saudis increased to 15.4 percent in the second quarter compared with 11.8 percent in the first quarter of the year.

The challenging headwinds facing regional economies is expected to spur activity across debt markets as countries sell bonds to help fund spending.

Saudi Arabia has already issued about SR84 billion in sukuk in the year to date.

“Over the past three years, the government has developed (from scratch) a well-functioning and increasingly deeper domestic sukuk market that has allowed it to tap into growing domestic and international demand for Shariah-compliant fixed income assets,” Moody’s said in a statement on Wednesday. 

“This, in turn, has helped diversify its funding sources compared with what was available during the oil price shock of 2015-16 and ease liquidity pressures amid a more than doubling of government financing needs this year,” the ratings agency added.