Forum to focus on transforming Saudi economy

The Gulf Competitiveness Forum will focus on the Saudi economy.
The Gulf Competitiveness Forum will focus on the Saudi economy.

Two thousand investors, businessmen, economists and those with an interest in the future of the Saudi economy will gather for the Gulf Competitiveness Forum (GCF) on Jan. 24-26 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh.

The event has been held by the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority since 2006. Previous keynote speakers included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Tony Blair. This year's theme is Competitive Sectors, an idea that emphasizes Saudi Arabia's interest in stimulating growth in markets outside of oil as the country looks to transition to an economy less dependent on that market.

"The kingdom has been successfully diversifying its economy over the past decade with non-oil revenues increasing by 29 percent this year alone," Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority Governor Abdullatif Al-Othman said. "However, falling oil prices mean that we have to accelerate those efforts, which we are doing by focusing on the industry sectors that can make the greatest contribution in terms of job creation, economic diversification and localization of products and content."

Aluminum production, phosphate mining and uranium are among the new industries in which officials have big expectations. Outside of new industries, officials have also floated ideas such boosting religious tourism, seeking private investments for public sector reforms and imposing new consumption taxes like sin taxes and value added taxes.

"The kingdom's commitment to economic reform is very much a recognition of changed realities, but it is also an acknowledgement of new and exciting opportunities for both investors and Saudi Arabia," Al-Othman said. "The GCF provides the perfect platform to discuss these issues openly and transparently and share best practices with global experts."

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Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA)

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