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Saudi Arabia Set to Host World Economic Forum Special Meeting in April 2024
Saudi Arabia Set to Host World Economic Forum Special Meeting in April 2024

Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh, is set to boost its global profile by hosting a prestigious, exclusive event of the World Economic Forum (WEF) special meeting in Riyadh from April 28-29. 

This was announced by Economy Minister Faisal Alibrahim at the Davos WEF event, reflecting Riyadh’s growing global leadership and collaborating with Riyadh’s flagship Future Investment Initiative.

This announcement highlights the event’s historic nature, being the first post COVID gathering outside Davos. 

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WEF Special Meeting Announcement

In the panel discussion titled “Saudi Arabia: The Course Ahead” at the Forum, Faisal Alibrahim, the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning, announced the disclosure of the special meeting.

 Various Saudi ministers and the President of the World Bank Group, Ajay Banga, were in attendance, who emphasized the meeting’s main objectives of promoting global collaboration, stimulating economic development, and addressing energy-related issues.

WEF Event Focus

Image Credit World Economic Forum

The main thrust of the WEF Special Meeting in Riyadh will be global cooperation, growth, and energy. The forum aims to promote international collaboration and tackle challenges hindering growth and development. 

The Saudi Arabian government believes that this new platform will provide an opportunity for the World Economic Forum, the Kingdom, and their global partners to engage in constructive dialogues and find effective solutions to the pressing issues of the day.

During the same panel discussion attended by several Saudi ministers and World Bank Group President Ajay Banga, Minister Alibrahim projected a growth rate of 4.4 percent for the Saudi economy in the current year. 

He further forecasted a growth range of 4.5 percent to 5 percent for the non-oil GDP, highlighting the Kingdom’s commitment to reducing its dependence on oil revenue.

Global Leaders Converge at WEF

Image Credit World Economic Forum

The WEF Special Meeting is expected to attract over 700 global leaders from diverse sectors, including the public and private sectors, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, and civil society. 

These high-profile attendees will engage in insightful dialogues to rejuvenate international collaboration and address the hurdles to growth and development.

Economic Agenda and Job Generation

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan announced that the private sector in Saudi Arabia has recently generated 800,000 jobs, demonstrating the Kingdom’s determination to double its economic efforts. 

The focus is on non-oil GDP, which plays a significant role in their economic agenda. The Saudi government is actively working towards creating a vibrant and diverse economy that provides ample opportunities for job creation and sustainable growth.

Saudi Arabia’s Commitment to Global Development

Image Credit Ministry of Economy Planning

Staging this meeting in Saudi Arabia is a testament to the country’s commitment to shaping the future agenda, fostering international cooperation, and addressing global challenges. 

This commitment has been evident in Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 in 2020 and its ongoing partnership with the World Economic Forum.

Alibrahim highlighted the growing recognition of Saudi Arabia’s influential role on the global stage, stating, “The (World Economic) Forum has recognized that the kingdom is becoming a stronger, more impactful leader on the global stage… and we found it as an opportune time to bring this global Tier 1 event to the kingdom, and start this new chapter together.” 

Bridging the Gap 

Børge Brende, President of the WEF, emphasized identifying shared interests and fostering impactful partnerships in a world where divides between developed and emerging economies are growing. 

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia, a critical player at the intersection of many of the world’s economies, is uniquely positioned to foster cooperation between developed and developing markets to help them reach their long-term commercial, energy, and financial goals.

A Post COVID Gathering

Image Credit World Economic Forum

Notably, this meeting will be the first WEF gathering outside the Swiss ski resort of Davos since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This move signals a return to in-person international forums and a new phase of global cooperation.

The Strategic Location of Riyadh

Being situated in Riyadh, the capital of the largest economy in the Middle East, this meeting will offer a unique platform for global leaders to assess current challenges and propose transformative ideas with potential global impact. 

Riyadh is a world-leading hub strategically located between Asia, Africa, and Europe. It also serves as a midway point between the Global South and the Global North.

Moreover, Riyadh is becoming a global commercial center as It has been selected as the new home of Regional Headquarters for over 200 international companies who wish to compete for Government contracts from 1st January 2024 onwards.

Well-known companies who have made a move include IHG Hotels & Resorts, PWC, Deloitte, Huawei, and JLL, who have been attracted by incentives offered by the Saudi government, which include a 30-year exemption on corporate tax.

Northern Trust Corp., a global financial powerhouse with a staggering $1.3 trillion worth of assets under management, has established its Middle East headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Image Credit Knight Frank

Moreover, in a significant step in developing public parks and urban spaces, aligning to establish sustainable and attractive spaces, Knight Frank recently opened their Saudi office in Laysen Valley in Riyadh. 

Image Credit Invest Saudi

Additionally, Riyadh is aiming to be among the world’s top 10 cities by 2030, with an investment of $1 trillion over the next seven years.

With an ambitious plan to double its population from 7.5 million to 15 million, the city is poised to witness an unprecedented surge in infrastructure development and economic growth.

World Expo 2030

Image Credit Riyadh Expo 2030

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also been chosen to host the World Expo 2030. The event will occur in Riyadh from October 1st to March 31st, 2030. 

The designated location for the expo will be near the recently constructed King Salman International Airport. 

The proposed theme for the Expo 2030 in Riyadh, “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow,” is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s commitment to fostering innovative pathways for collective action and collaboration. 

Riyadh is crucial in the Kingdom’s plans for a sustainable economic future, contributing to around 50% of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil-based economy. With a robust economy, a vibrant cultural scene, and an open visa policy, the city aims to become one of the most visited destinations globally. 

Global Summit

The upcoming World Economic Forum Special Meeting in Riyadh promises to be an event of global significance. 

With the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the helm, the meeting is poised to set a new standard for international cooperation and usher in a new era of global leadership. The world eagerly awaits the outcomes of this landmark event.

Keep Reading: Saudi Arabia Officially Wins The Bid To Host World Expo 2030 in Riyadh

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