BMG Economic Forum 2023
Wednesday, 05 July 2023

BMG Economic Forum takes place under theme ‘Riyadh: The City of the Future’


LONDON: The 16th annual BMG Economic Forum took place on Wednesday at the London Stock Exchange, under the theme “Riyadh: The City of the Future” and with Arab News as a media partner.


Tom Attenborough, head of international business development at the LSE, highlighted the stock exchange’s establishment of permanent offices in Riyadh and Jeddah, praised the strength of relationships between Saudi partners and UK representatives, and committed to support the Vision 2030 reform plan and its “exciting opportunities.”

Recalling his first visit to Riyadh 25 years ago as a junior investment banker, he noted the rapid changes in the capital’s “growth, energy, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit” that he saw during subsequent trips.


Talat Hafiz, economic columnist and finance expert, delivered the keynote speech of the forum, titled “Expo 2030: Why Riyadh?”



He outlined major structural changes that the Saudi capital is undergoing as part of Vision 2030, saying Riyadh’s development will play a key role in its bid to host Expo 2030. “It’s an excellent opportunity also to highlight and showcase what’s happening in Riyadh,” he said.


Faisal Hameed, vice president for innovation enablement at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, said Saudi Arabia had climbed from 46th to second place in the Global Cyber Security Index since the 2017 launch of Vision 2030.


“The Cyber Security Authority and Cyber Security Act have both been big changes that leave us only second to the US,” he added.


David Webb, managing director of security risk management firm Valkyrie, said confidence in Saudi Arabia as an investment destination is increasing, and this can be seen in a change in the queries the company is receiving.


“Saudi was always bound up in the misconstrued notion that there were physical threats to investing there — tied to what one might term its ‘noisy neighbours’,” said Webb.


“But what we’re seeing more of now, especially in recent years, is a move from questions of physical security and whether it’s strong on cybersecurity, and we always say ‘yes’ as now is a great time to invest in the country.”


Gurpreet Thathy, Valkyrie’s director of cybersecurity, said when advising on cybersecurity the company always tells clients they must build it in and future-proof it.


“In Saudi, we see that this is the mindset from the outset, rather than a bolt on, and it’s very good to see this.”


Honayda Serafi, founder and creative director of the fashion brand Honayda, said Saudi fashion presents a booming investment opportunity.


Already employing 200,000 people and generating 1.4 percent of gross domestic product, Honayda Serafi said the Kingdom is looking to up the industry’s economic impact to 2 percent by 2030 as she seeks out prospective investors for Saudi fashion.


“Saudi is growing in all sectors and fashion has really strong potential, with investors having an opportunity to invest in not only brands but infrastructure,” she said.


Source Arab News

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