AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative - Day One

The Future Investment Initiative (FII), an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators, kicks off in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (AFP)
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The Future Investment Initiative (FII), an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators, kicks off in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (AFP)
The Future Investment Initiative (FII), an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators, kicks off in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (AN Photo)
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The Future Investment Initiative (FII), an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators, kicks off in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (AN Photo)
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Updated 28 January 2021

AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative - Day One

The Future Investment Initiative (FII), an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators, kicks off in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (AFP)
  • A host of high-profile experts coming together under the theme “The Neo-Renaissance
  • Jamaican eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt among speakers

RIYADH/LONDON: The Future Investment Initiative (FII), an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors and innovators, kicked off in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday with a host of high-profile speakers brought together under the theme “The Neo-Renaissance.”

Opening remarks at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center (KAICC) came from Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and FII Institute Chairman.

Other speakers include Jamaican eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, Matteo Renzi, former prime minister of Italy and Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister.

Follow the coverage below (all times GMT):

18:40 - FII CEO Richard Attias brings day one to a close, and that ends our first day coverage here at Arab News. Remember to come back to www.arabnews.com/fii2021 for coverage of the second day's discussions.

18:30 - ICYMI: Saudi Arabia has revamped over half of the 400 foreign direct investment (FDI) regulations, as foreign investment rose in 2020 compared to 2019, said Minister of Investment Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih.

“We have performed better than most, and ultimately, investors trust a government that provides security to them and the population. Saudi Arabia handled it better than most, as investors want to trust governments that look after them. Saudi Arabia, through our leadership, has shown that,” he stated. READ MORE HERE.

18:20 - The value of mergers and acquisitions declined globally by 5% year-on-year to $3.6 trillion in 2020, the lowest level since 2017, according to studies. But two sectors where there was still significant activity were technology and pharma.

Sarah Al-Suhaimi, chairwoman at Tadawul and CEO of NCB Capital in Saudi Arabia joins the panel to discuss a blueprint for financial leaders assessing future market opportunities and public-private partnerships needed to ensure sustainable growth.

18:15 - ICYMI: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the restructuring of the global health care system, with an accelerated shift in focus away from hospitals to providing more facilities to homes, speakers told delegates at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference place in Riyadh.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare, said another health care trend was a closer collaboration between the government and citizens, where all elements of society must work together to ensure the safety and wellness of the whole country. READ MORE HERE.

18:05 - We've reached the penultimate panel of day one of the FII, which looks at the "new pathways" to global growth, after the pandemic resulted in a steep rise in unemployment and sharp contraction in specific segments of the economy, with input from CEO of Bahrain's Mumtalakat Holding Company Khalid Al-Rumaihi and Senegal's economy minister Amadou Hott.

17:55 - Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, said that Saudi Arabia is working with so many countries on green hydrogen and blue hydrogen.

“Easily and simply, I could say, that we will be pioneering more of that blue hydrogen and green hydrogen,” Prince Abdulaziz said. READ MORE HERE.

17:40 - Saudi Arabian finance minister Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan joins his Bahraini counterpart Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa to discuss how the Gulf nations are adapting to the challenges of economic diversification posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

17:35 - ICYMI: Saudi Arabia is cultivating the trust of global investing institutions as it seeks to attract foreign funds into the Kingdom’s ambitious development plans, Khalid Al-Falih, the Minister of Investment, told the Future Investment Initiative (FII) summit. READ MORE HERE.

17:20 - Amin Nasser, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco and Abdullah Amer Al-Swaha, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Communications and IT join Dr. Thomas A. Kennedy, Executive Chairman, Board of Directors, Raytheon Technologies to discuss the future of global technology policy.

17:05 - As we look ahead into 2021 and beyond, where will the greatest opportunities be to invest in assets with high conformity to environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles? Our next panel, which include a NEOM investor and the CEOs of Nasdaq and London Stock Exchange, are discussing their predictions.

16:45 - Our next panel is Playing to Win: How will global investment drive the future of the sports industry? And the panelists are discussing how Saudi Arabia was able to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue hosting world-class sporting events — such as the Dakar Rally, FIA Formula E and golf's Saudi International. 

Alejandro Agag, CEO of ExtremeE (Pictured, R), said the reason this can happen in the Kingdom is because “everything works in Saudi Arabia... nothing is impossible here.”

Moderator: Richard Attias, CEO, FII Institute

• Bader Alkadi, Advisor to the Minister of Sport, Saudi Arabia 

• Dr. Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage of the Republic of Kenya

• Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO, Extreme E, UK

Usain Bolt, Eight-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Jamaica

• Jean Todt, President, Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, France

The panel also included a brief appearance from eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt who spoke about athletes having to compete in the COVID-19 era without spectators.

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16:00 - Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, first has a discussion with Palki Sharma Upadhyay, the executive editor at WION, which precedes a panel discussion on how the energy sector can be part of and power the post-COVID-19 crisis recovery.

15:50 - ICYMI: Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), is concerned about the different valuation of financial and other assets that has been a feature of markets affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. READ MORE HERE.

15:40 - Next up, Peggy Johnson, CEO of Magic Leap, is in discussion with Turqi Al-Nowaiser of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund about the expected investment ($72.8 billion by 2024) in AR/VR and how it will revolutionize the sector.

15:30 - ICYMI: Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), said that the sovereign wealth fund is looking to invest not only in large companies but in the entire spectrum of technology. READ MORE HERE.

15:15 - Next up, our panelists will discuss how work will change in the post-COVID era, and how the pandemic and its aftermath will influence the way CEOs reshape their companies to provide stability and hope to a workforce living in a new social, political, and economic reality.

Moderator: Edie Lush, Executive Editor, Hub Culture, UK

Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan, Vice Chairman and CEO, SABIC, Saudi Arabia (pictured)

• Patrice Caine, Chairman & CEO, Thales Group, France

• Todd Gibbons, CEO, BNY Mellon, USA

• Daniel S. Loeb, Founder and CEO, Third Point LLC, USA

• Andrew N. Liveris, Special Advisor, Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia

15:05 - Next is a brief discussion between Lameen Abdul-Malik, Nobel Peace Prize 2005 and Head of THINK and Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group in India.

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14:45 - The health of nations: A CEO’s guide to investing in the next decade of global health is our third panel. 

Some context for you: The global healthcare market is expected to surpass $11 trillion by 2022, while Deloitte data shows funding for health technology innovators surpassed $7.4 billion in 2019 and continues to rise.

So how can business and government expand access to healthcare, train healthcare workers, remove regulatory barriers, and encourage investment in advanced health technologies?

Moderator: Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Founder and Executive Chairman, XPRIZE Foundation, Board of Trustees Member, FII Institute, USA

• Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, India

• Dr. Bernd Montag, CEO, Siemens Healthineers, Germany

• Dr. Ali Parsadoust, Founder and CEO, Babylon Health, UK

14:30 - Kirill Dmitriev of the Russian Direct Investment Fund speaks briefly about the fund's achievements last year - including the Sputnik V vaccine - and how looking ahead to 2021, it wants to work closer with Saudi Arabia on transforming the Kingdom into a leading investment destination and continue to work on oil price regulation.

14:00 - Our second panel discussion looks at how, with lower oil prices and costs of the pandemic taking their toll, global business leaders and policymakers will strengthen investment and trade partnerships in the midst of new geopolitical realities and economic possibilities.

Moderator: Fatima Daoui, Anchor Business News, Al Arabiya 

H.E. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, Minister of Investment, Saudi Arabia

• H.E. Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt 

• H.E. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO, DP World, UAE 

• Lord Grimstone of Boscobel, Kt, Minister for Investment, Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, UK 

• Eric I. Cantor, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Moelis & Company, USA

13:45 - PHOTOS: 200 seats have been allocated for FII guests in the plenary hall, as well as for the media in the event's media center.

13:20 - ICYMI: The fifth edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) will take place from Oct. 25th to 28th, Richard Attias, CEO of organizing body the FII Institute, confirmed on Wednesday. READ MORE HERE.

13:10 - The first panel discussion of the day asks how the global investment community can leverage the economic downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to build a stronger, more sustainable future for all. Panelists for this talk are: 

Moderator: David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group, USA

• H.E. Yasir Al Rumayyan, Chairman, FII Institute and Governor and Board Member, Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia

• Ray Dalio, Co-Chairman and CIO, Bridgewater Associates, USA

• Laurence D. Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock, USA

• Dr. Thomas P. Gottstein, CEO, Credit Suisse Group, Switzerland

• David M. Solomon, Chairman and CEO, The Goldman Sachs Group, USA

13:00 - The opening remarks from Yasir Al Rumayyan, Chairman of the FII Institute and governor and board member of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, will get us started on day one.

12:45 - Follow Arab News' special coverage of this year’s FII, at our dedicated online section

12:30 - Jamaican eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt is one of the star speakers lined up to take part in the event, you can hear him at 7 p.m. KSA (4 p.m. GMT)...

12:15 - Hello, and welcome to the first day of coverage of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) - guests and media participants attending the two-day event have limited access due to the exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 


Saudi Arabia calls on GCC to speed up establishment of customs union, common market

Saudi Arabia calls on GCC to speed up establishment of customs union, common market
Updated 24 January 2022

Saudi Arabia calls on GCC to speed up establishment of customs union, common market

Saudi Arabia calls on GCC to speed up establishment of customs union, common market
  • Saudi finance minister stressed the importance of overcoming obstacles by achieving a qualitative leap in cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan called on Gulf countries to complete the establishment of a customs union, and implement the Gulf common market, to achieve economic unity by 2025.
He was speaking during the 115th extraordinary meeting of the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee in Riyadh, with Gulf Cooperation Council member state counterparts also in attendance.
The meeting was chaired by Al-Jadaan with the participation of GCC Secretary-General Nayef Al-Hajraf, and a number of officials and specialists.
Al-Jadaan said the Kingdom was keen to redouble efforts to implement King Salman’s vision of promoting joint Gulf action, a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency said.
He stressed the importance of overcoming obstacles by achieving a qualitative leap in cooperation and a consensus among the GCC states at all levels, praising the role of the General Secretariat in expanding ties in line with global developments and long-term strategies of GCC members.
Al-Jadaan added that vigorous steps were being taken to achieve coordination, integration and interdependence among GCC member states in all fields.
During the meeting, the attending ministers reviewed progress on strengthening financial and economic cooperation between GCC states.
They were briefed on the economic decisions issued by the Supreme Council in its 42nd session and a plan to complete the remaining steps for establishing the customs union before the end of 2024, as well as recommendations made by the Customs Union Authority and the Gulf Common Market Committee.
The committee meeting is held periodically to discuss matters of economic progress and developments in legislation and economic measures adopted by GCC members to achieve long-term common strategic interests.


Frankly Speaking: Saudi Arabia can be a leading oil exporter while also fighting climate change, says deputy minister for environment

Frankly Speaking: Saudi Arabia can be a leading oil exporter while also fighting climate change, says deputy minister for environment
Updated 24 January 2022

Frankly Speaking: Saudi Arabia can be a leading oil exporter while also fighting climate change, says deputy minister for environment

Frankly Speaking: Saudi Arabia can be a leading oil exporter while also fighting climate change, says deputy minister for environment
  • Appearing on the video interview series, Dr. Osama Faqeeha points out that the problem lies not in hydrocarbons but emissions
  • He says Saudi Green Initiative target will be achieved with due consideration for environmental sustainability

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia can retain its role as the leading exporter of oil in the world while pursuing an ambitious strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change, one of the Kingdom’s leading environmental policymakers has told Arab News.

Dr. Osama Faqeeha, deputy minister for environment, water and agriculture, said that the issue for the Kingdom and the world was to deal with polluting emissions from hydrocarbon production, while exploring other uses for oil products and renewable alternatives.

“I think we don’t see the problem in the hydrocarbons; we see the problem in the emissions,” he said, pointing out that “petrochemicals, plastic, medical supplies, clothing and other things are made from hydrocarbons; the emissions are the issue — namely, CO2 emissions.”

Faqeeha, who is closely involved in implementing the measures of the Saudi Green Initiative unveiled last year, was appearing on Frankly Speaking, the series of video interviews with leading policymakers and business people.

He also spoke of the ambitious plan to plant 10 billion trees in the Kingdom, the campaign to protect its environmental eco-system and biodiversity, and efforts to improve the air quality in the capital Riyadh and other big cities.

Faqeeha said that the environmental campaign launched in the SGI was part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle the challenges of climate change and global warming.

“In this situation, Saudi Arabia has launched the Circular Carbon Economy approach, which is really to treat CO2 like any other waste, by basically taking it and recycling it in various ways.

“We have to realize that there is no single approach that can single-handedly address the global climate change challenge.

“We need renewable energy, we need the Circular Carbon Economy, we need recycling, we need to stop this deforestation, preserve habitats, reduce marine plastics. We have to focus on all of this,” he said.

The plan to plant 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia over the coming decades, a striking feature of the SGI, is acknowledged as a challenge given the Kingdom’s desert climate and relatively low level of rainfall.

“Definitely this is a very challenging, ambitious target. As His Royal Highness the Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman) announced, the time frame will be over the next few decades. Our focus really is on environmental sustainability. We intend to achieve this target with due consideration for environmental sustainability.

“To achieve this, first of all we will focus on using native plant species in the Kingdom. Believe it or not, there are more than 2,000 documented species of flora in the Kingdom that have adapted to the dry and arid climate in Saudi Arabia.

“So, really these plants thrived in this environment and (fully) adapted to it,” he said.

The tree planting program — already under way — would focus on four main areas: Restoring natural flora in mountains and valleys; an “urban greening” program for the big cities; plantation in agricultural areas to support food production and rural communities; and tree planting along major highways to counter sand encroachment and enhance the experience of travelers.

Renewable water sources would also be used in the tree-planting program, to avoid endangering precious groundwater. Treated wastewater and rain harvesting were among the techniques available to environmental policymakers, as well as greater use of maritime resources.

Dr. Osama Faqeeha appears on Frankly Speaking. (Arab News)

“Saudi Arabia has thousands of kilometers of coastline on the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea. There are two species of native mangrove trees that grow in sea water, so we intend to focus on those species as well,” he said.

One issue that has provoked debate in the Kingdom is the traditional practice of cutting natural wood to make campfires, held responsible for some of the desertification the SGI is pledged to eliminate.

“Local people enjoy picnics and the outdoors, they like to light wood fires for family gatherings, and these are local traditions that we really cherish. However, it came at a high expense of the local vegetation.”

The new environmental law has imposed severe penalties on such practices, but Faqeeha said that there were incentives for alternatives to wood fires so that these traditions would not be affected.

The World Health Organisation has criticized Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East for low standards of air quality, but Faqeeha took issue with some of the WHO findings.

“I’d like to highlight a distinction between air pollution and degraded air quality. Sometimes you have a degraded air quality not because it’s polluted by human activities. The WHO uses particulate matters as the main parameters to measure air quality,” he said.

“That’s a very good parameter for (places such as) Europe and the US, where you have extensive vegetation cover, and the main source of particulate matters are power plants, factories and other human activities. We call such particulate matters anthropogenic particulate matter or PM.

“Here in Saudi Arabia and in the region as a whole, particulate matters are dominated by natural causes, mainly coming from dust storms. Definitely air quality becomes degraded during dust storms — no one claims that it is healthy to go outdoors and inhale dusty weather.

So, that’s really what they (WHO) are referring to. It is degraded air quality because of the natural particulate matters emanating from dust storms.”

The ministry was working on comprehensive measure to reduce dust storms and improve air quality, Faqeeha said.

At the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow last year, some experts warned that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries would suffer more than other parts of the world from the health effects of global warming, including extreme heat, diseases and air pollution.

Faqeeha acknowledged this was an issue that policymakers were confronting. “Definitely, climate change and global warming is a major global challenge that we are taking very seriously.

“In terms of the outlook for temperature, there are very few studies. In the entire region we don’t have a climate center for climate studies and that’s why the Crown Prince announced the creation of the Regional Center for Climate Studies here, which will be championed by the National Center for Meteorology in Saudi Arabia. Its job is to do national and regional studies on the mid- and long-term outlook for climate change,” he said.

One big focus of Saudi environmental strategy, he added, is the push to reverse the trend to land degradation and desertification, a major contributor to the generation of polluting greenhouse gas emissions that costs around trillions of dollars globally.

“Land degradation is the second largest contributor of greenhouse gases. In fact, land degradation is the cause of about more than 50 percent of biodiversity loss, which is a large contribution. Also, it has a huge impact on agricultural lands and food security,” Faqeeha said.

Measures to reverse land degradation were a major achievement of the G20 summit under Saudi Arabia’s presidency in 2020.

Faqeeha also outlined the Kingdom’s new strategy toward waste management, which he views as an area ripe for private sector involvement and foreign investment.

“Private sector participation is an important enabler to achieve the objectives of the national environmental strategy,” he said.

“We have many international companies that are coming, who feel the regulatory environment now is highly conducive to their participation.”


Saudi Arabia spends $991m on water projects in Jazan area

Saudi Arabia spends $991m on water projects in Jazan area
Updated 23 January 2022

Saudi Arabia spends $991m on water projects in Jazan area

Saudi Arabia spends $991m on water projects in Jazan area

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture, known as MEWA, launched on Sunday 20 water and environmental projects to provide sustainability in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, set to cost a total of SR3.6 billion ($991 million). 

The Ministry, in participation with the Emirate of Jazan Province inaugurated four water projects costing over SR2.5 billion, to produce desalinated water in Jazan.

Five further water projects costing more than SR709 million were also initiated to expand water transmission systems. Seven projects for water and environmental services costing SR346 million were initiated to expand distribution.

The inauguration involved four projects costing more than SR70 million, to enhance water resources, serving more than 1.3 million beneficiaries in the region.

 


Saudi Industrial Development Fund to provide new financing products worth $3bn this year

Saudi Industrial Development Fund to provide new financing products worth $3bn this year
Updated 23 January 2022

Saudi Industrial Development Fund to provide new financing products worth $3bn this year

Saudi Industrial Development Fund to provide new financing products worth $3bn this year

RIYADH: The Saudi Industrial Development Fund will launch and update new financing products to serve new sectors during the current year, at a value ranging between SR10 billion to SR11 billion ($2.6 billion to $3 billion).

The Fund's spokesperson Khalil Al-Nimri told Alarabiya it will be targeting four sectors, with the Supply Chain Finance program being one of the programs to be updated. Alarabiya didn't name the sectors.

This comes as the fund seeks to boost private sector investment in targeted sectors and appeal to a large number of investors. 

So far, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund has approved the financing of more than 100 projects in the mining sector, amounting to a total of SR28 billion, Al-Nimri said.  


Saudi Eastern Province closes $40m deal to improve its public transport network

Saudi Eastern Province closes $40m deal to improve its public transport network
Updated 23 January 2022

Saudi Eastern Province closes $40m deal to improve its public transport network

Saudi Eastern Province closes $40m deal to improve its public transport network

RIYADH: Riyadh-based Saudi Public Transport Co., also known as SAPTCO, has sealed a SR150 million ($40 million) deal for a public bus transport project in the Eastern Province’s Dammam and Al Qatif governorate.

The contract, signed with the Eastern Province Municipality, will be valid for five years, the homegrown transport firm said in a bourse statement.

The Transport General Authority partnered with the Eastern Municipality to supply the project with eight lanes over a distance of 453 kilometers, 212 stops, and 85 buses, SPA reported, citing the authority’s president Rumaih Al Rumaih.

From reducing the effects of environmental pollution to rationalizing energy consumption, the project comes in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

Upon its completion, the region is expected to see less traffic congestion and more organized transportation systems, SPA reported.

SAPTCO noted that the deal’s financial impact is expected to reflect on the company’s financial statements during the first half of the ongoing year.