The freezing snow of Davos will melt in the warmth of Riyadh
Sunday, 21 January 2024

The freezing snow of Davos will melt in the warmth of Riyadh

I have often been to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum but never experienced such freezing snow weather as this time. Although the outside temperature averaged -6 C, there were heated discussions inside the congress corridors.

Among critical and timely topics, geopolitical developments affecting worldwide economies took priority, including the Russian-Ukrainian war and the genocide against civilians in Gaza. Other issues included the threat of climate change to the world’s population and the controversy over the speed of artificial intelligence implementation.

The Saudi delegation to Davos, led by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, participated in several high-level sessions and bilateral meetings. Also, the delegation highlighted the Kingdom's expertise in collaborating with the international community, private sector, non-governmental organizations, and academia.

It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia's iconic brands were visible on the Promenade, Davos' main road, including NEOM, SABIC, AlUla, Saudi Digital, Saudi Invest, and Misk's Youth Majlis pavilion. I was pleased to attend several sessions organized by Misk's Youth Majlis, especially the "Meet the Leader" session where my dear friend Prince Mohammed Al-Faisal, chairman of the stc Group, gave the youthful audience, including my son Bader, inspiring words of wisdom.

One of the highlights of Davos' evenings was the Saudi Aramco reception. Senior government officials and business leaders usually attend this special event. In his welcoming speech, Amin Al-Nasser, Aramco's CEO, stated that Aramco has allocated an additional $4 billion to its global venture capital arm, Aramco Ventures, more than doubling its allotted capital from $3 billion to $7 billion. The Qatar Investment Authority also hosted a similar reception where government and business leaders were invited.

On the final day, Faisal Al-Ibrahim, Saudi minister of economy and planning, and Borge Brende, WEF president, announced that Riyadh would host a high-level WEF special meeting focusing on global cooperation, growth, and energy on April 28-29, 2024. This special session will convene more than 700 global leaders from the public and private sectors, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, and civil society to foster dialogues between countries, revive international cooperation, and address current challenges to growth and development.

Being hosted in Riyadh, the capital of the largest economy in the Middle East and a world-leading hub connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe, the WEF special meeting will provide a platform for global leaders to assess current challenges and propose transformative ideas to create a positive global impact. Similar to the one-off snow-free WEF meetings that took place in May 2022, we look forward to the special meetings, which will see Davos' snow melting in the friendly warmth of Riyadh in April.

Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

Source Arab News

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