Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), called on the global business leaders to transfer capital and knowhow to the region and to invest in the Kingdom, which is one of the 20 fastest growing economies of the world.
He made these remarks as he opened the Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF) in Riyadh. Hundreds of business leaders, high-ranking Saudi officials, top-notch executives and media persons attended the high-profile opening ceremony.
Al-Othman said: “The event, organized by SAGIA, is also expected to offer insights on continuing economic and financial problems affecting the world as well as positive ideas to address the pressing global challenges.”
He highlighted the strength of the Kingdom’s vibrant economy at a time when leading world economies are tackling financial challenges.
To this end, he said it is important to note that a number of participants of the GCF will also discuss global and regional trends in business competitiveness.

“There will also be discussions on developing a world-class infrastructure in Saudi Arabia,” said Faisal S. Bafarat, SAGIA’s deputy governor.
About 80 internationally-renowned business leaders including ministers and top-notch CEOs will share their insights and opinions at the three-day forum on “Building Competitive Partnerships” — the overriding theme of this year’s event.
For the first time since its inception in 2006, the seventh edition of GCF also includes the ‘Invest in Saudi’ exhibition. It will both showcase investment opportunities in the Kingdom and provide an ideal networking platform for participants.
Bafarat said the GCF would focus on “economic prospects of the Kingdom and will include discussion as how we continue progress in developing a world-class infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce.”
Mohammed Al-Jasser, minister of economy and planning, will lead the discussion of global competitiveness and set the stage for building a partnership framework in Saudi Arabia, in a session moderated by BBC journalist Nik Gowing.
In fact, the GCF has a reputation for the high caliber of its speakers and panelists, and this year is no exception, with international and Saudi experts providing a broad spectrum of insight on this year’s theme, ‘Building Competitive Partnerships’, said the SAGIA deputy chief.
Adel Fakeih, minister of labor, will head an expert panel discussing the links between Saudi education system and the job market.
Fakeih will examine the role of the Saudi universities and share ideas whether vocational training in the Kingdom plays in developing human capital, among other employment-related issues.
His theory and vision will have added significance keeping in view the fact that 29 percent of the Kingdom’s population is under 15 years of age, while 68 percent are under working category (15 to 64 years).
Among other high-profile speakers at the Riyadh event are Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, health minister; Fahad Al-Mubarak, SAMA governor, and Peter Robertson, co-chairman of the US Saudi Arabian Business Council and formerly vice chairman of Chevron and chairman of the US Energy Association.
Robertson will be addressing the opportunities in the renewable energy sector, and exploring the role of government and the consumer in creating a ‘greener’ nation.
Taking part in a panel discussing Saudi-Chinese partnerships in the forum on Sunday will be independent economist, Dr. Andy Xie.
Andy, who began his career at the World Bank, is something of an economic fortune-teller and he is widely known for his prediction of the bursting of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 2000 dotcom bubble and 2008 credit bubble.
In 2013, Bloomberg magazine named him as one its top 50 most influential people worldwide.
Then, there will be another Saudi woman speaker — Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, who is a pathfinder for Saudi women. A member of the Shoura Council, Obaid was appointed alongside 29 other Saudi women to ensure that women are participants in the Kingdom’s decision-making.
Thoraya is only the second Saudi woman to be awarded the prestigious King Abdul Aziz Medal, and was formerly Under Secretary-General of the UN.
Obaid will be taking part in the discussion ‘Women Stimulating Economic Development’.
Then, there will be several sessions staggered over the next three days to be addressed by renowned business leaders.
Founded in 2006 by SAGIA, the GCF has grown into one of the largest and most important annual gatherings of academics, business leaders, politicians and journalists in the region.
Every year, the event addresses the concept of competitiveness from diverse perspectives presented by the keynote speakers and attended by leaders and experts in various fields.
The SAGIA event is taking place at a time when there is strong global interest in investing in Saudi Arabia, which has been hailed as the most stable of regional economies that offers tremendous growth opportunities.
The forum is also a major networking event for participants from around the world and Saudi and regional businesses. SAGIA has several ongoing initiatives that encourage competitiveness and growth, with considerable focus on the youth.
These include the Saudi Fast growth 100 (SFG100), Most Competitive Youth, and Saudi Responsible Competitiveness Index.
SAGIA was established in 2000 as part of the new foreign investment law in Saudi Arabia. SAGIA supervises the attraction of foreign investment into the country, and manages Saudi Arabia’s competitiveness agenda in an effort to improve the country’s business environment.

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