DAVOS, Switzerland: As heads of government, senior executives and tech groups from around the world flock to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the snow-covered Swiss alpine town of Davos, one thing is certain: all eyes are on Saudi Arabia. .
“There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that it is an engine of global development, and over the past 7 years, we have witnessed not only the commitment to this transformation, but also the implementation of this transformation,” said Faisal Al-Ibrahim. ministerEKingdom Economy and Planning on Arab News’ “Let’s Talk” program, which continues its pre-Summit winter season.
He said on this flagship news talk show: “There is more and more evidence that Saudi Arabia is an attractive investment destination not only for current partners but also for future partners. . »
In addition to Al-Ibrahim, the high-level delegation of Saudi Arabia includes Ambassador to the United States Princess Rima bint Bandar Al-Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs Princess Faisal bin Farhane, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Investment, Mohammed Al – Cadaan Abdullah Al-Swaha, Minister of Finance, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Bandar Al-Khorayef, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, and Fahd Al-Rashid, Director General of the Royal Urban Commission from Riyadh.
It’s important to share our story and what we’ve learned,” Al-Ibrahim told Outspoken host Katie Jensen, adding, “There’s a lot of value in being engaged. We focus not only on engagement, but also on the specific actions that follow from it. »
“We can contribute a lot, but we can gain and benefit from our existence by being aware of all the global issues that can affect our transformation or the issues that our transformation can contribute to. »
One of the forum’s main stages will feature a panel discussion focused on the Kingdom, “Saudi Arabia’s Transformation in a Changing Global Context,” and Al-Ibrahim’s keynote session, “Between Liquidity and Fragility: Reforms in MENA.” January 19.
Al-Ibrahim, 41, took office in 2021 with many ambitious megaprojects under his and his colleagues’ authority during the reign of King Salman.
Six years ago, then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled his Vision 2030 strategic plan, designed to transform Saudi Arabia from a conservative, oil-dependent kingdom into a tech mega-center, an investment and entertainment hub attractive to young people and tourists.
Al-Ibrahim rejected criticism that some of these plans were too ambitious, saying: “Of course there will be criticism, but at the end of the day people have to consider that this is a project. We are very confident of its success. »
He added: “Most of these projects are there to ensure the growth of sectors or to attract more private sector investment. They are calculated and ambitious, but this is a very cautious strategy. »
“Of course, as projects enter the development phase, there is constant progress and evaluation of what needs to be changed. Nevertheless, we are 100% confident that these deadlines can be achieved. Some of these projects are more ambitious than others and we are very optimistic about their implementation. »
According to Al-Ibrahim, the projects will not only contribute to the Kingdom’s economic productivity, but will also “impact global challenges and opportunities for innovation globally. »
Because of this, he sees many high-level thinkers, researchers and developers settling in the Kingdom. However, Al-Ibrahim noted that such projects and plans also come with a number of obstacles.
“The main problems we face today are the problems related to the diversification of the economy. We need to diversify our sources of growth,” he said.
“We have achieved a lot in terms of increasing the growth rate of our non-oil business, but there is still room to do so, including having a more diversified and sophisticated export portfolio that is competitive regionally and globally. »
According to him, the second challenge is also an opportunity.
“We are not an aging society – 60% of our population is under 30 years old. At some point, it will grow, and we need to make sure that with that growth, we get what experts call the “demographic dividend,” which is the value created by Saudis and residents of Saudi Arabia. reaching working capacity and entering the labor market. »
Finally, the third challenge is related to state and institutional capacity, Al-Ibrahim said.
He added: “Over the past seven years, we have made a lot of progress, but we are adamant that over the next eight to ten years – until 2030 – our government’s institutional capacity, especially in terms of economics and development, must reach a level where it is competitive and conforms to global standards, not least because it greatly affects the quality of our policies and our speed and intelligence in responding to changes in the environment. »
One of the ways that Saudi Arabia is strengthening itself as a global player is to bring the regional meeting of the World Economic Forum to the Kingdom – “Davos in the Desert” this year. »
Al-Ibrahim said: “We have a clear program of partnership opportunities (with WEF) and one of them is exploring a very focused forum that will be based in the Kingdom and address some global challenges. We are starting with an experimental forum in Davos and will continue this momentum. »
“In addition, we have been more engaged in various initiatives supported by the World Economic Forum and are discussing the launch of other new initiatives that you may encounter in the near future. »
The last physical Davos winter meeting took place in 2020, just days before the Covid-19 outbreak was declared a global health emergency. The 2021 event was held virtually, and last year’s summit was moved from January to May after a spike in infections.
A record number of visitors and world leaders are expected at this year’s summit, where the theme of “cooperation in a fragmented world” will be discussed. »
This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com