RIYADH: The coronavirus pandemic forced most organizers around the world to hold several key summits and events online thus depriving participants of the chance to meet others in person.
High-profile events such as the Future Investment Initiative not only offer a platform to discuss global and regional issues but also provide an opportunity for the attendees to try to look their best.
The pre-event to-do list not only includes finalizing keynote speeches or presentations but also the most suitable attire to don at the event.
Despite all the seriousness of the issues being discussed at this year’s FII, one cannot ignore the style and fashion tastes of the participants. Colorful abayas, suits, dresses, and special accessories tell stories of their own.
Colin Rhys, chief executive officer of KARAVAN, a nomadic hospitality brand looking to expand into the Kingdom, turned heads with his unique fedora with a piece of Shemagh (Saudi headgear) tied to it.
He told Arab News that the idea of the hat came up five years ago in AlUla when the original black band that went around it broke off. “I was with a Saudi friend who tied this (Shemagh material) to the hat,” Rhys said.
“I wore it to every FII, every single event, every year, everywhere,” he said. “It has become a part of me.”
He added: “We’re really excited to be here at the FII. I think we see the huge opportunity that the Crown Prince has laid out for us, and we’re excited to be part of the journey moving toward (Vision) 2030.”
Asma Arkubi, Saudi client adviser at the Red Sea Development Co. said she saw some of the most beautiful abayas at the FII.
“I really liked how these women walked in with something cultural and extremely fashionable at the same time, it was like a mini fashion show for me,” she told Arab News.
“Combining modern chic designs with culture is something I’ve always been a fan of,” she added.
John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Co. and Amaala, said it is his third time attending the FII, and highlighted that attendees are eager to come back to in-person events.
“I think this is almost probably the best FII for a whole variety of reasons, not least because it's the first one after the pandemic and it just shows how much people want to come and meet face to face something we had been missing for over the last two years,” Pagano told Arab News.
“But I also think, and I’m really pleased of the fact that it’s really cemented Saudi Arabia’s reputation for the Future Investment Initiative. It is now a global event, and it’s attended by the brightest people in the world, and I’m pleased to be part of that,” he added.
Mimoun Assraoui, CEO of RIF Trust and vice-chairman of Latitude, who was also present at the FII, said: “I’m very happy to be here because I missed it last year. We did it virtually last year and this year I’m amazed by the contents, the people, and the high-level of experience, and seeing people happy again to connect with each other.”