Diversity and sustainability top Riyadh conference agenda

Business leaders and experts discussed a number of issues related to the world of business at the Asia House Middle East Trade Dialogue in the Saudi capital on Tuesday. (File photo)
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Updated 26 February 2020

Diversity and sustainability top Riyadh conference agenda

  • Saudi British Bank chair Lubna Olayan expects global GDP growth to be driven by emerging economies

RIYADH: Sustainability, renewable energy and the role of women in the economy were on the agenda at the Asia House Middle East Trade Dialogue conference in Riyadh on Tuesday.

In her opening remarks, Lubna Olayan, chair of the Saudi British Bank, which is sponsoring the event, said: “We are standing at a fork in the road of global trade.”

“There were regions or communities that were left behind in the global race for prosperity,” she said, but added: “Domestic demand is growing and it is easier to meet the demand locally.”

There was a global pivot toward emerging markets and China in particular, she said. “The growth of GDP will come from emerging markets.”

Joining the conference from Beijing via Skype was Victor Gao, vice president of the Center for China and Globalization, who said: “China right now is undergoing this epic struggle, coronavirus, and even though we are not out of the woods, the situation is getting much better.”

He discussed the trade war between China and the US, saying that it was “mutually destructive” but “started by the US.”

However, Gao added: “Both the US and China really need to get their act together and put the war behind us.”

One of the panel discussions emphasized the importance of having a diverse workplace that included women. “We are seeing change, but the entertainment sector is pretty much still male-dominated,” said Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, the first female CEO in the entertainment industry in the Middle East.

We are standing at a fork in the road of global trade.

Lubna Al-Olayan

“It’s not about men vs women but it’s about creating diversity. It’s about having the right person in the right role, whether male or female, and creating a balance,” Stanford-Kristiansen said.

Ghada Al-Jarbou, general manager of global liquidity and cash management at Saudi British Bank, said: “What I’d like to see personally are more women in STEM jobs. Under Vision 2030, lots of fields have opened for women that were previously off limits. We want to see more of that and, in the end, it increases the GDP.”

Khaled Al-Dhaher, country managing director of Accenture Saudi Arabia, said: “It starts with leadership, in creating a diverse and inclusive environment. It’s important to drive targets, it’s about bringing value. When there are teams with diverse leaderships, everyone wins. It creates a better environment for everyone.”

Sylvain Cote, senior economist at Saudi Aramco, said: “Oil will remain an important source of energy for at least the next 20 years. We haven’t seen a source of energy replaced by another one, they tend to build on one another. It doesn’t look like it will disappear.”

Lord Green, Asia House chairman, delivered the closing statement, remarking that he had lived in Saudi Arabia for a year in 1978 and loved it. “Riyadh left it’s imprint on me,” he said, adding that it had changed a great deal.

“The city (Riyadh) is 10 times bigger, has the most dramatic architecture in the world, income per head has at least doubled,” he said.


Dubai launches economic program for post COVID-19 recovery 

Updated 05 August 2020

Dubai launches economic program for post COVID-19 recovery 

  • “The Great Economic Reset Programme” is part of a “COVID Exit initiative” to help the recovery and reshaping of the economy
  • The economic program will feature analyses of current and future policies

DUBAI: Dubai launched an economic program as part of its efforts to reshape the emirate’s economy for a “sustainable” and “resilient” future post the coronavirus pandemic, the government said. 
The Dubai government partnered with the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) to launch “The Great Economic Reset Programme” as part of a “COVID Exit initiative” to help the recovery and reshaping of the economy, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday. 
The economic program will feature analyses of current and future policies, research and extensive stakeholder consultation to set the direction and tone of future economic policies, regulations and initiatives.
The government plans to use local and international experts for economies and societies to create growth strategies for the Dubai economy.
The MBRSG held a “Virtual Policy Council,” with global experts and thought leaders to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy and potential policy responses and initiatives. 
Chief economists, senior practitioners and researchers from leading global institutions including the World Bank, joined experts from Dubai Economy and the MBRSG at the first roundtable.
“I believe the triple helix collaboration between public, private and academia stakeholders have always produced the best solutions in the past. In the highly uncertain environment now, extensive collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders are vital to our future prosperity. The Virtual Policy Council will propose the best approaches Dubai and the UAE can adopt to address the risks and opportunities in the next normal economy,” said Mohammed Shael Al-Saadi, CEO of the Corporate Strategic Affairs sector in Dubai Economy.
“This Virtual Policy Council is a key component of the whole process where global experts and thinkers share their views on the future economy. In this new era, the role of governments in enabling the new economic actors is becoming increasingly central, and Dubai is well-positioned to lead the way with innovative models of growth post COVID19,” said Professor Raed Awamleh, Dean of MBRSG.
The roundtable also discussed the impact of the pandemic on international trade, foreign investment and tourism, as well as the rise of digital globalization.