RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, January 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
The ninth annual Global Competitiveness Forum opened last night at a ceremony attended by government dignitaries, business experts and leading academics from Saudi Arabia and abroad.
In his opening remarks, HE Abdullatif Al-Othman, the Governor and Chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA) welcomed guests, remarking that this year's Forum came at a crucial juncture for Saudi Arabia, which has announced plans to accelerate economic reforms in order to diversify its economy, and reduce its reliance on oil revenue.
"Although the region has experienced turmoil in recent times, the Kingdom continues to be an oasis of stability while continuing to accelerate developmental progress. A wide range of decisions have been made to adopt progressive policies and implement procedures aimed at achieving wide structural economic reform," said Al-Othman.
According to the Governor, these include the establishment of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, which is tasked with overseeing all economic issues; the reorganization of the housing sector; the introduction of fees on undeveloped lands; and strengthening of the role of the private sector. Further initiatives being implemented in early 2016 include partial privatization of some state assets, removing bureaucratic obstacles to foreign direct investment (FDI), and improving accountability and transparency in the public sector.
However, Saudi Arabia is in a comparatively positive position to profit from the initiatives being made, stressed the Governor. At USD653 billion dollars, the Saudi GDP (2015) is the largest in the Middle East; it is the fourth fastest-growing in the G-20, and public debt of just 5.8 percent of GDP compares favorably with the three fastest growing G-20 economies (China, India and Indonesia) which average 34 percent of GDP. Furthermore, the Kingdom's income from non-oil revenues has increased 29 percent over the course of 2015.
The Forum continues with a further two-day agenda discussing economic competitiveness focusing on the sectors that can best deliver economic diversification, with the participation of business luminaries including Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo; business magnate Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico; and Marillyn Hewson, chair of Lockheed Martin.
- Inaugurated in 2006 by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (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.
- The theme of GCF 2016 is 'Competitive Sectors' discussing strategies of developing a sustainable mixed economy not overly reliant on oil
- Past keynote speakers have included former US president Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and former premiers, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, FW de Klerk of South Africa, and Tony Blair of the UK.
- Each year, some 2,000 people participate in the GCF's various activities, making it the world's largest conference on competitiveness.
For more information, go to: http://www.gcf.org.sa
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SOURCE Global Competitiveness Forum