Saudi Arabia sets stage for next G20 at 'Davos in the Desert' forum

RIYADH, Nehal El-Sherif (dpa)- Saudi Arabia has set the stage for next year's G20, scheduled to be held in Riyadh, as it wrapped up its annual investment forum known as "Davos in the Desert" on Thursday.
"We have been preparing for the presidency for Saudi Arabia for quite some time," Minister of State Ibrahim al-Assaf said, addressing the closing session of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.

Besides discussing microeconomic challenges, financial regulatory issues and structural reforms, Saudi Arabia hopes to use its presidency of the G20 to focus on sustainable development, environment and climate change as well as reforestation.
"We are a developing country but also we have common issues with developed country, this is why we play as a bridge between the two; and one focus of our presidency is issues of developing countries, how to help them and how to push the goals for sustainable development," al-Assaf said.
The next G20 is scheduled to be held in the Saudi capital in November 2020.
"I believe one of the most important issues to deal with is empowering women and youth. Although we have short experience, we have been successful in that, this is where the growth will be coming from," said the official, who was previously the minister of finance and foreign affairs.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of social reforms, championed by the kingdom's de-facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The reforms included easing restrictions on women, allowing them to drive, travel, opening businesses and get into jobs that were not open for females before.
The changes are aimed at helping to open the conservative kingdom for investors and tourists as it hopes to diversify its oil-reliant economy as part of the crown prince's ambitious Vision 2030 plan.
The Future Investment Initiative, which was launched in 2017, also aims at bringing global investors to Saudi Arabia.
This year's conference, which began on Tuesday, was packed with talks by world leaders, business moguls and celebrities. Attendees discussed financial aspects of several sectors including entertainment, technology and tourism.
They also discussed artificial intelligence and energy.
Leaders, including Jordan's King Abdullah, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, addressed the conference, which also saw talks by celebrities like US rapper and Hollywood film director Oliver Stone.
Many speakers praised Saudi Arabia's economic and social reforms. Others highlighted the kingdom's potential for investments in cinema and sports.
One participant on Thursday described the country as "an emerging market" for golf.
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan highlighted growth of non-oil investments on Thursday through public-private partnerships with local businesses.
"Confidence is growing," he said.

Friday, November 1st 2019
Nehal El-Sherif (dpa)

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