Saudi optimism outweighs the rest of the West at FII in NYC

Saudi optimism outweighs the rest of the West at FII in NYC
Khalid al-Falih, Saudi minister of investment, said people were continuing to invest in the Kingdom despite the crisis. (File/AFP)
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Updated 30 March 2023

Saudi optimism outweighs the rest of the West at FII in NYC

Saudi optimism outweighs the rest of the West at FII in NYC
  • Khalid al-Falih, Saudi minister of investment, said people were continuing to invest in the Kingdom
  • The FII Priority report revealed that Saudis felt more motivated about their lives

NEW YORK CITY: Saudi Arabia leads the world in optimism, a new report has found, with the Saudis not only confident in where their own lives are headed, but also the Kingdom and even the world.

And the FII Priority event in New York heard from Khalid al-Falih, Saudi minister of investment, who said the optimism was reflected by the conitnued investment in the Kingdom

Released at a forum event in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday, the “Future Investment Initiative Priority” report surveyed 130,000 people from 13 countries about the things that mattered most to them.

Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute told Arab News he wasn’t surprised that the Middle East and East of the world came over more pessimistic than the West.

“You (the Middle East) have leaders who have a vision. I don't know if it's a longer term vision, but they have a vision. And they expressed that vision in Europe.”

He said West did not have such an obvious vision. “I think the vision is not clearly expressed, and people are a little bit lost. And this is why you saw movements like the yellow jacket in France. A lot of demonstration in Spain, a lot of demonstrations in America.”

“I think these countries, especially the United States, still has to solve many social crisis.”

The FII Priority report asked if people thought their lives were headed in the right direction - most people globally said they were.

But when the question became wider, people in nations such as the UK, USA and France, became more skeptical about the state of their countries and the world generally.

“I'm not surprised to see that the West is pessimistic. The world is pessimistic because we are definitely facing economic crisis,” Attias added.

And he said: “Many people who benefited the most from the globalization are the people in the east. A lot of jobs were created in the east, a lot of jobs was created in the Middle East.”

And Attias said the West was undergoing an “identity crisis,” which did not exist in the East.

The report found that Saudis led the way in feeling positive about their country, only being beaten in their optimism for the state of the world – coming third to China and India.

The upbeat attitude of Saudis didn’t stop there. Asked if they believed their country would be better in the future – a confident 61 percent in the Kingdom said they did – second only to 80 percent in China.

In France 83 percent said no, followed by 78 percent in Italy and 75 percent in Germany.

The biggest concerns of people surveyed around the world were all related to the cost of living crisis, with food security and unemployment playing on most people’s minds.

Terrorism was at the bottom of most people’s list of concerns, looking closer to home.

The survey covered three themes: the social crisis, environmental crisis, and what they referred to as the identity crisis (difficulties linked to the integration of migrants and a loss of traditional values).

Largely the report revealed an even balance for concerns surrounding people’s personal lives and the increasing social inequalities – as did environmental concerns.

Despite the politicization of migration in many countries during election campaigns such as Brexit and the US and French presidential elections, the survey revealed that for most people it was not a significant issue at all.

The US returned a 17 percent concern over migration, while 12 percent of Saudis put it high on their list, Morocco was the lowest with just 5 percent of recipients saying migrants concerned them most.

Attias said he believed this focus politicians placed on immigration showed a discord with the public they were supposed to represent.

“This is why there is a disconnection between what leaders think, or what leaders are putting in priorities and what the people want and consider other priorities,” He explained.

He said the disconnection exposed the need for leaders - political and in business – to reconnect with the people.

The survey report found that 70 percent of people in high income countries said they did not believe life was going to get better in their countries – while 70 percent of people in the east and Middle East were optimistic.

There is a social identity crisis, Attias said, not least with a new phenomenon that had been exposed by the report that showed that 50 percent of those surveyed wanted to quit their jobs in the next 12 months.

“We call it the great resignation. I think it will be massive.”

He said the pandemic had caused people to reassess their lives, especially at work where they felt there was no longer scope for progression or to earn more money.

Work, he said, for Westerners at least, had become precisely that – work.

He said 54 percent of people in the west were unable to save for the future, while 66 percent were working to have a decent life.

But in Saudi Arabia 35 percent of those asked looked at work as a way to fulfill themselves.

“We need to listen to people either right or wrong. It is not for me to judge but we need to listen to people.”

He said people were increasingly beginning to feel they are not being heard by the politicians and CEOs.

“I think we have to discuss a call to action  - this a wake up call. Many of the people we spoke to were talking of social revolution,” He said.

The findings of the report seem to push the power east, with Middle East citizens expressing more faith in their countries than the west.

The concept that somehow non-western countries were playing second fiddle is certainly not the perception of those living there.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the FII Institute and Governor of the Public Investment Fund Saudi Arabia said: “Some of the answers to the questions were surprising. But the most of the responses were what we expected.

Rumayyan said since efforts were made by the West to demonize fossil fuels there had actually been an increase in production, but also cost of living had risen – food is more expensive, he said.

Adding: “Everything has gone in the wrong direction.”

Meanwhile he said the IMF had played a major role in stimulating the Saudi economy as the Kingdom continued to invest both internally and internationally.

There is a definite vibrancy in the Gulf – for those living there it is easy not to notice the food poverty or the cost of living crisis.

Sure prices have increased, but with wages for many in the region being significantly higher than in the west, life is just generally that bit easier.

And the continued activity in the economy – largely for the best – results mostly from the Vision projects in the Gulf region that are fueling the growth – and therefore positivity.

S[peaking at the close of the summit, Khalid al-Falih, Saudi minister of investment, said people were continuing to invest in the Kingdom, despite the crisis.

He said the Kingdom was “emerging as a place where climate challenges are being addressed at scale, and at the right pace with very pragmatic policies and systems in place.”

He added that they were transforming the Saudi economy, bringing new sectors on that have “huge potential for growth,” that attracted a lot of international and domestic capital.

And he said the push brought together partnerships “that are really shaping, not just the future of Saudi Arabia, but I believe the region.”

He said while the pandemic had brought about a. more nationalistic view from many countries around the world, Saudi Arabia was in fact doing the reverse and looking towards external investments that would not just benefit the Kingdom, but also the world.

“We are aligning all of these together and the Kingdom has all of the enablers put together.”

And the minister added: “The Kingdom has some of the best macro economic indicators a very stable economy, very strong fiscal and monetary position, low cost locations, especially with recent trends globally and nation. energy availability, great talent.”

And he played to the younger section of the Saudi community who joining the economy.

He said young men and women were “joining our workforce and joining in as entrepreneurs, and indeed our best weapon, best attraction to bring pastors to the Kingdom.”

And he finished saying: “My message to investors everywhere, is you don’t know what you’re missing until you come to Saudi Arabia.”

And he said investors would find it was the “best location to address quality, high growth investment rich market which is very complex.”

He said the Kingdom’s future investments had become far more diverse than oil and gas – with markets for healthcare, biotech, education, logistics.

And in a nod to confidence Saudis have shown in their country’s future, he added: “We’re really digging deep, we’re not only focusing on large anchor investors, which are very important, but we’re digging deep into the ecosystem of the nation, harvesting and harnessing our most important resource which is our young, talented, unlimited, unlimited people.”

446 hobby clubs set up across Saudi Arabia

446 hobby clubs set up across Saudi Arabia
Updated 48 min 47 sec ago

446 hobby clubs set up across Saudi Arabia

446 hobby clubs set up across Saudi Arabia
  • Platform offers hobby clubs for people to develop their interests and meet like-minded individuals

RIYADH: A rapid rise in the number of hobby clubs in Saudi Arabia is helping to bring communities together, as well as broaden people’s interests and opportunities.

Since the launch of the Hawi initiative, part of the Saudi Quality of Life program, in October 2022, 446 hobby clubs have been established in 50 cities and provinces around the Kingdom.

From pottery making, fashion, and collecting valuable items, to artisanry, public speaking and reading, the platform offers hobby clubs for people to develop their interests and meet like-minded individuals.

In recent weeks, events, activities and gatherings around the country have been organized or supervised by Hawi in cooperation with amateur clubs, attracting people from all age groups.

The activities and events are associated with the Quality of Life Program Center, which aims to register 6,000 amateur clubs in the Kingdom by 2030.

Khalid Albaker, the center’s CEO, said: “These tours play an important role in effective communication between the Hawi portal, amateur clubs, and their members, as they contribute to creating a fun, engaging, and secure atmosphere where people can practice their hobbies.

He said the leadership places a lot of emphasis on the hobby sector, and is keen to improve both the quality of life for individuals and society by providing the necessary resources to fulfill Saudi Vision 2030.

“The hobby sector is part of a comprehensive plan that seeks to achieve and benefit all segments of society, as well as for individuals’ lives to flourish through the practice of favored hobbies,” Albaker said. 

Saudi royal reserve authority becomes member of world conservation body

Saudi royal reserve authority becomes member of world conservation body
Updated 04 June 2023

Saudi royal reserve authority becomes member of world conservation body

Saudi royal reserve authority becomes member of world conservation body
  • Recognition of environmental and community achievements
  • Access to special databases, 18k experts linked to global body

The King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Reserve Development Authority has been officially announced as a government member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The authority was recently granted IUCN membership in recognition of its efforts to empower local communities in nature conservation and wildlife protection, and the restoration of key flora and fauna throughout the country.

It is one of the first entities in the Kingdom to obtain IUCN membership, allowing it to draw on international databases specialized in wildlife protection, and the expertise of 18,000 specialists linked to the world body.

The authority will now be able to form partnerships, exchange experiences with members, and participate in the IUCN quadrennial meetings and conferences.

The authority seeks, through this membership, to ensure the sustainability of the environment, in line with the objectives and goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan and the Saudi Green initiative.  

Fahad Al-Shuwaier, director general of communication at King Salman Royal Reserve, told Arab News that the authority applied for the membership with comprehensive detail of all its environmental projects.

Al-Shuwaier said the IUCN advisory board meets every three months to discuss applications received from across the world.

Dr. Ahmed Al-Bouq, director general of wildlife conservation at the National Center for Wildlife Development, said the IUCN membership would aid in following best international practice.

Al-Bouq cited the example of the Farasan Islands’ Archipelago Reserve that became a UNESCO-listed entity by adhering to international benchmarks. 

“The membership gives you guidelines and allows you to benefit from the expertise of a large number of international experts,” added Al-Bouq.

“When talking about biodiversity, you need a huge company of international experts, as it is impossible to attract experts in every subspecialty in biodiversity.

“You may find one expert who specializes in a certain branch of microbiology, and sometimes you find a very small number of experts who specialize in other disciplines,” he explained.

He said that “what links these experiences to each other is usually international organizations.” International partnerships were important for determining standards. 

“When dealing with any organization that deals with protection, the first thing you need to do is to draw a baseline, and then examine the international standards that you aspire to reach, and thus draw (up) a plan to implement these standards.”

He said the most important part of the system was community involvement, a key factor recommended by international organizations concerned with protected areas. The main objective was not to prevent people from entering such areas, but to regulate the sustainable use of natural resources, said Al-Bouq.

Japanese singer Asca, DJ Yamato perform at Jeddah’s Anime Village

Japanese singer Asca, DJ Yamato perform at Jeddah’s Anime Village
Updated 13 sec ago

Japanese singer Asca, DJ Yamato perform at Jeddah’s Anime Village

Japanese singer Asca, DJ Yamato perform at Jeddah’s Anime Village
  • Asca in Kingdom for second time following December show in Riyadh
  • DJ Yamato, first Japanese artist to collaborate with DJ Avicii, in Saudi Arabia for first time

JEDDAH: The famous Japanese singer, Asca, launched her three-day concert series in Saudi Arabia at City Walk, Anime Village in Jeddah. 

Asca, known for singing the opening theme song for the anime “Sword Art Online” and ending theme song for “Edens Zero,” performed three shows at City Walk alongside compatriot DJ Yamato, from June 1-3.

The singer, who was in the Kingdom to perform for the second time following her show in Riyadh in December 2022, said: “Jeddah’s climate is very similar to that of Japan. It was very comfortable for me personally because the temperature was similar, and the humidity was high.

“Fans also made handmade boards, jumped with us, and yelled out. Saudi Arabia is very far from Japan, but I was very happy when I thought that there were people in Saudi Arabia who supported me so much,” she told Arab News.

Asca also noted that the Kingdom’s people were more active at night than people in Japan. “I am a night person, so Saudi Arabia suits me,” she added.

DJ Yamato, the first Japanese artist to collaborate with the late DJ Avicii, was performing in the Kingdom for the first time. 

“At first, I got the impression that the audience were shy, but once they opened up to us, everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Saudi people are friendly and amazing — I had a thought that music truly connects the world together,” he told Arab News.

DJ Yamato came to Saudi Arabia along with a company called Avex Asia, which is a production company that focuses in anime, and which is in charge of the stage policy at Anime Village in Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia, US keen on continuing Sudan talks - foreign ministry

Saudi Arabia, US keen on continuing Sudan talks - foreign ministry
Updated 04 June 2023

Saudi Arabia, US keen on continuing Sudan talks - foreign ministry

Saudi Arabia, US keen on continuing Sudan talks - foreign ministry
  • Saudi Arabia calls on Sudan factions to agree to new ceasefire

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the United States are keen to resume formal talks between the delegations of Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

“Saudi Arabia and the United States remain steadfast in their commitment to the people of Sudan and call upon the parties to agree to and effectively implement a new ceasefire,” the statement said.


The ministry said that the delegations of the Sudanese fighting factions are still in Jeddah, and continue to engage in daily negotiations.

“Those discussions are focused on facilitating humanitarian assistance and reaching agreement on near term steps the party must take before the Jeddah talks resume,” according to the statement. 

It added: “Facilitators stand ready to resume formal talks and remind parties that they must implement their obligations under the May 11 Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to protect the civilians of Sudan.”

Sudan descended into chaos after fighting broke out in mid-April between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.
For weeks, Saudi Arabia and the US have been mediating between the warring parties. On May 21, both countries successfully brokered a temporary cease-fire agreement to help with the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. Their efforts, however, were dealt a blow when the military announced on Wednesday it would no longer participate in the cease-fire talks held in Jeddah.

The fighting has turned the capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas into battlefields, resulting in widespread looting and destruction of residential areas across the country. The conflict has also displaced more than 1.65 million people who fled to safer areas in Sudan and neighboring countries.
Residents reported intense fighting over the past two days in Khartoum and its neighboring cities of Omdurman and Bahri.
Loud sounds of shelling and gunfire were heard early Sunday in parts of Omdurman, as the military’s aircraft flew over the capital.
Fighting was also reported in the northern part of the Darfur region, which had witnessed some of the worst battles since the fighting began on April 15.


KSrelief provide prosthetic limbs for 216 civilians in Yemen’s Marib

KSrelief provide prosthetic limbs for 216 civilians in Yemen’s Marib
Updated 04 June 2023

KSrelief provide prosthetic limbs for 216 civilians in Yemen’s Marib

KSrelief provide prosthetic limbs for 216 civilians in Yemen’s Marib

Riyadh: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) provided prosthetic limbs for 216 civilians mutilated during the war in Yemen during the month of April, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Prosthetic Limbs and Rehabilitation Center project in Marib Governorate provided various medical services to citizens who had lost their limbs. The prostheses were manufactured and mounted, and 60 patients underwent rehabilitation through physiotherapy; 156 patients were given specialized consultations.
Amputations performed on civilians have been a prominent feature of the vicious war in Yemen, with many requiring assistance from KSrelief after suffering life-changing injuries from bombs and landmines.
Elsewhere, the center managed on Saturday to distribute 75 food packages to more than 549 displaced families in Gezira state, in Sudan, as part of the Saudi relief air bridge that KSrelief is running to help the Sudanese people.