At Davos, Riyadh reaffirms its desire to diversify its economy
At the Davos Forum, Saudi Arabia confirmed its desire to diversify its economy, which is still heavily dependent on black gold, by attracting foreign investment in other activities such as the mining sector and industry. The kingdom also highlighted its commitment to fighting global warming, the energy transition and the place of women in an attempt to improve its image internationally.
“We want to reduce our dependence on oil,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning told AFP in an interview in Davos.
Eight Saudi officials visited Switzerland on the occasion of the annual meeting of political and business leaders, one of the largest national delegations. They set up their base camp very close to the exchange center.
Among them are the ministers of foreign affairs, investment, finance, communications, as well as the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States.
“We want to diversify our economy, it’s important, it’s important,” Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim told AFP during a meeting near the Davos Forum.
Riyadh has been trying to open up its economy further to investment in sectors other than oil, the regime’s traditional cash cow, which allowed it to run its first budget surplus in nine years in 2022 thanks to price increases following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It’s not about advertising or showing off, people are very interested in the growth of Saudi Arabia,” said the minister, who highlighted the 8.5% GDP growth recorded last month amid a global economic depression last year.
The country wants to build momentum on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s December visit, during which the leader and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman endorsed hydrogen deals and China’s “new silk roads” diversification program.
“We are also interested in other sectors such as mining and industry,” said Mr Al-Ibrahim.
“Starting from scratch” domains
Referring to tourism, culture, entertainment and sports, he said that the country wants to make its mark in the kingdom “starting from scratch”.
Saudi Arabia has just attracted the Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo from Al-Nassr club and may be a candidate for organizing the World Cup in 2030. He also held several meetings with media representatives in Davos to promote his candidacy for Universal. 2030 exhibition.
On Tuesday, the kingdom also announced an initiative with the organizers of the Davos Forum to accelerate innovation in Saudi Arabia using the metaverse.
The energy transition, the climate commitment and the place of women were also discussed during the meeting, in which the country sought to draw attention to another aspect that has greatly tarnished the kingdom’s image. attributed to Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which Saudi officials deny.
“We have opened up more than before and this has allowed people to observe,” Mr. Al Ibrahim wants to believe, referring to “values, progress, and the fact that we are fighting many challenges at the regional and international level.”
Regarding energy, the minister warns: Diversification of the economy “does not mean that we will not continue to be one of the largest energy producers. We will continue to be ahead in the field of traditional hydrocarbons.”