Flagship investment forum paves the way for Vision 2030
I received an invitation from my dear brother Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), to participate in the Future Investment Initiative (FII), which took place in the Saudi capital Riyadh last week. This is my third participation, which clearly showed the speedy evolution of this event in terms of speakers, content, participants and production. FII’s theme is “What is next for global business?” focusing on a sustainable future, innovations and the development of societies.
This year, in addition to over 300 speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and markets around the world, we saw heads of state spanning nations from India to Brazil and from the Middle East to Africa providing insightful information about their respective countries and economies. The world’s premier companies sent their top representatives to network and do business.
As for the giga-projects, my favorite topic, I remember during the first FII in 2017, a groundbreaking announcement was made about NEOM city with an update last year by its new CEO at that time, Nadhmi Al-Nasr. I was expecting this year to see NEOM’s update on the agenda. Since it is a key pillar of the Kingdom’s FDI strategy, investors are anxious to know the latest updates on this tri-jurisdiction giga-project. By the same token, I was expecting to hear some updates about the Al-Qidiyya project as well. On the other hand, the presentation by Red Sea Company CEO John Pagano was impressive for potential investors in terms of content and visuals.
After the forum’s successful conclusion, King Salman issued a royal decree establishing the Future of Investment Initiative Institution. Its role is to organize investment-related events and support activities with the aim to be a center of global thought in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
What made FII special this year was its focus on artificial intelligence and innovations. The best ideas and brains from all over the world came to Riyadh to share their experiences and achievements. I even entered into a dialogue with a German manufacturer of electric cars to be potentially used in NEOM, Al-Qidiyya and other cities with affordable cost and more appealing to female drivers. Furthermore, the company is planning to set up its production facilities in Saudi Arabia, benefiting from the Kingdom’s raw materials, strategic location and young human capital.
During one session, I sat next to Richard Attias, whom I call “the Maestro” of this business concert. I saw him in action directing his team and hundreds of dedicated PIF young men and women. The management and execution of such a high-profile and critically demanding three-day event is something to be highly admired. The Future Investment Initiative, the flagship of the PIF, continues to pave the way for Vision 2030.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.