RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will host the Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF) between Jan. 23 to 26, 2010. As many as 100 global figures, including politicians, business leaders, statesmen and company executives have confirmed attendance at the fourth GCF 2010 organized under the patronage of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

Announcing the launch of the GCF at a press conference here on Sunday, Amr Al-Dabbagh, governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), said that the forum, under the theme of “Sustained Competitiveness,” would focus on raising the standard of economic competitiveness through playing an active role in accelerating global economic growth. The GCF will be addressed by Michael Dell, founder & CEO of Dell Inc.; and John T. Chambers, Cisco’s chairman and CEO.

Delos M. Cosgrove, president and CEO of the US-based Cleveland Clinic, who presides over a $4.6 billion healthcare system, will also be a speaker. Cosgrove’s centers include the Cleveland Clinic, nine community hospitals, 14 family health and ambulatory surgery centers, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Cleveland Clinic Toronto, and the developing Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Another important speaker will be Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of competitiveness theory.

Among Saudi panelists, a woman scientist Ghada Al-Mutairi, who received an award for scientific creativity in the United States, will participate in the GCF. Minister of Finance Ibrahim Al-Assaf and SAMA Governor Muhammad Al-Jasser have also been invited to deliver speeches at the conference.

Asked about the rankings of Saudi Arabia in terms of competitiveness and of providing a better business environment, Al-Dabbagh said that SAGIA aimed to position Saudi Arabia among the top 10 most competitive nations by 2010 through the creation of a pro-business environment, a knowledge-based society, and by developing new, world-class “Economic Cities.” He said, “The Kingdom’s ranking improved from 67th among the 135 countries in 2005 to 38th in 2006, to 23rd in 2007, to 16th in 2008, and to 13th now in 2009.”

Quoting from the report of the International Finance Corp., a World Bank’s affiliate, the SAGIA chief said that the Kingdom had been recognized as the 16th best business-friendly country in the world. “We are only three positions away from achieving our 2010 goal,” said Al-Dabbagh. In 2008, the United Nations Conference for Trade and Investment (UNCTAD) report had ranked Saudi Arabia as the 14th biggest recipient of FDI in the world, and the largest recipient in the Middle East and Africa; ahead of Turkey and South Africa, he added.

“About $38.2 billion FDI was used to implement projects in Saudi Arabia in 2008,” he said. The oil and gas sector represent only 10 percent of the above amount, he said, adding that 75 percent wee related to non-energy FDIs, which is “an achievement.” “Not only this, we have also created over 340,000 jobs in the process, of which 90,000 jobs are occupied by Saudis with an average monthly salary of SR6,000,” said the governor. He pointed out that the Kingdom had announced tax credit for foreign investors, who transfer their capital and technical know-how to “less developed regions.”

Abdul Mohsen Al-Badr, Chief Executive of GCF, said that the forum would be an event that would allow influential figures in politics and business to network and share ideas on how nations can increase their competitiveness. The GCF, founded in 2006 by SAGIA, is an annual global meeting of top businessmen and political leaders. SAGIA has also established a National Competitiveness Center (NCC) that monitors and support the development of competitiveness in Saudi Arabia.

Add Comment