G20 Summit in Riyadh Next Year in Focus at the Close of the Future Investment Initiative 2019
G20 Summit in Riyadh Next Year in Focus at the Close of the Future Investment Initiative 2019
  • Dan Yoo
  • 승인 2019.11.01 08:14
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The third day of FII discussions and debates also covered innovative technology and digital transformation
Energy Minister Addresses Future Investment Initiative 2019
Energy Minister Addresses Future Investment Initiative 2019


The G20 summit in Riyadh next year, innovative technology and digital transformation were key topics on Thursday, the third and final day of the October 29-31 Future Investment Initiative (FII) in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The closing panel, entitled ‘What’s next in economic diplomacy and G20?’ grouped H.E. Dr. Ibrahim Alassaf, the Saudi Minister of State who is a G20 veteran, with several former G20 leaders - former French Prime Minister Francois Fillion (2007-2012), former Italian PM Matteo Renzi (2014-2016), ex-Australian premier Kevin Rudd (2007-2010, 2013) and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron (2010-2016)​.

“On the agenda, obviously there will be long-standing issues like dealing with the macroeconomic challenges, dealing with financial regulatory issues, dealing with structural reforms,” Alassaf said, responding to a question on what is the agenda and what is Saudi Arabia planning to do with regard to G20 next year.

“But in each presidency, there will be specific areas where the interests of the host will be focused on. In the case of Saudi Arabia, one of the most important issues is to deal with the empowering of women and youth. This is very important. Even though we had been dealing with this for a very short period, we have been very successful in that. This is where the growth will be coming from. That’s one area.”

Noting that the Kingdom has been preparing for its presidency of G20 for quite some time, including high-level meetings led by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Alassaf said that on the Saudi agenda for G20 was sustainable development, the issues of developing countries, noting the Kingdom will also seek to highlight what is seen as priority issues - reforestation and combating desertification.

Asked by the moderator what does it mean for the region that Saudi Arabia will be the first Arab country to host a G20 meeting, Alassaf, said: “Being a developing country we will put more focus on the issues of development including in our region. I expect that we will have some emphasis on the issues in our region, whether they are development issues or other challenges. So this is going to be part of the agenda of Saudi Arabia.”

​​​​But he said the Kingdom was also a bridge between developing and developed nations.

Asked what advice he has to Saudi Arabia for the G20 presidency and as it prepares to host the G20 Summit in 2020, David Cameron, the former UK premier, said: "Think hard about the issues you want to actively promote and which will make a real difference – all the way up to the conference itself."

Cameron added: "Don’t waste the opportunity of having world leaders together to push agendas where you can make a real difference – on global poverty, on failed states, on making sure oil and natural resources are a blessing, not a curse."

“This is a special time: the G20 provides Saudi Arabia with a great opportunity to promote many sectors – not only finance,” said Matteo Renzi, the former Italian prime minister. The Kingdom, he said, can also broadcast its message on its leadership in sectors like tourism, culture, innovation, and sustainability.

The Australian former premier Kevin Rudd said: “All of us with the Kingdom all the best in its major global responsibilities in hosting the G20 in the year ahead. This is an important task, not just for the Kingdom but for the world ..” He emphasized the importance of the G20 fundamental message of maintaining financial stability and sustainable and balanced economic growth.


Addressing a panel entitled ‘What’s next for Asia?’, Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment H.E. Dr Majid Al-Kassabi talked about Saudi Arabia's "unique blend" of competitive advantages which he said included a robust business environment, a large youth population, rich natural resources, capable infrastructure, and not forgetting "the hospitality that is in our DNA".

Al-Kassabi said that Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, has made significant reforms and improvements in the Doing Business reports issued by the World Bank Group, which is a reference to the development of the business sector, according to remarks carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

He said the Kingdom has a different mix of competitive ratios and advantages, noting that it has risen staggeringly in the business creation environment thanks to a strong business environment, a youth society, rich natural resources, and a strong infrastructure.

On an earlier panel, H.E. Mohammed Al-Jadaan, the Saudi Minister of Finance, noted that the Kingdom has made significant progress in reform processes compared to other countries, according to his remarks carried by SPA.

Saudi Arabia seeks to be an immune economy to global and local challenges, through improving all sectors and caring for digital transformation in the government sector, and taking substantial structural reform measures, Al-Jadaan said, speaking during a panel session entitled "How the Middle East became an international investment powerhouse".

Al-Jadaan said the Kingdom is looking forward to structural reforms on the ground in the coming years, where it has made significant progress in reform processes compared to countries, especially in the indicators of competitiveness and the response of the government to changes, technologies, and the private sector, as well as focusing on some specific industries. He said there are a significant growth and diversification in tourism, technology, sports, entertainment, and other sectors in the Kingdom, in addition to the construction sector shifting since 2014 from a negative point to a positive point by almost 3%.

"We are focusing on specific industries as we look to grow non-oil GDP – we’re seeing significant growth in tourism, tech, sports, and entertainment," Al-Jadaan told the panel.

He talked about economic restructuring in Saudi Arabia.

“We want the Saudi economy to be immune to global and local challenges,” Al-Jadaan said.

“This is what we are trying to do to improve sectors, take care of the digital transformation of the government sector, and take fundamental structural reform measures that I believe have put us on the right track towards our endeavor.”

He added: “FDI has grown by 10% and local investment is on the rise. Confidence is growing, and public-private partnerships are allowing us to ease the burden on government budgets.”

Another panelist, HE Dr. Naif Falah Al-Hajraf, the Kuwaiti Minister of Finance, noted: “It is no longer viable for government to intervene in business at the micro level – the time has come to zoom out and allow the private sector to play the leading role in the economy.”

Bahrain’s Minister of Finance H.E. Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said: "When a government invests, it puts a dollar into the economy, but when a government improves business conditions, it allows the private sector to put in many dollars – it creates a multiplier effect.

Some 6,000 delegates from around the world were scheduled to attend FII over its three-day course, including world leaders and top officials, leading investors and global experts.

The list of notable attendees, speakers and panelists this year included Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, UAE Minister of State H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, and White House advisor Jared Kushner, along with the CEOs of leading global banks and financial institutions from around the world.

FII is held under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and the attendance of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Taking place at the Ritz Carlton and the King Abdul A​ziz Conference Center, FII is hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), one of the world’s leading sovereign wealth funds. FII was organized around the overall theme of ‘what is next for global business?’ and focused on three key pillars: a sustainable future, the technology for good to help everyone, and the development of societies.

PIF said in a statement on Thursday that the conference showcased innovative technology solutions with displays by tech partners Huawei, Hive, Magic Leap, SoftBank Robotics, Virgin Hyperloop One, Unisound, SenseTime, Root AI, Gravity Industries, among others, familiarizing audiences with quantum computing, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence.

“FII 2018 told the world we’re open for culture and entertainment. FII 2019 has told the world we’re open for innovation,” H.E. Abdullah bin Amer Alswaha, the Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology, told the conference.

Saudi Arabia, Alswaha said, is in second place among G20 nations after Japan, and the world's third, in terms of growth of the digital economy.

"With cloud applications and 5G technology, we'll completely transform healthcare – with spatial computing, a physician in another part of the world can tell where your pain areas are, taking remote diagnosis to a new level."

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