The Future Investment Initiative is an impressive event by any standards. The business executives, bankers, CEOs, state dignitaries and sovereign fund managers from all over the world weren’t attending a regular event.
On the final day today, some may leave with insights from the many talks and panel discussions, others may have signed deals, but all will be acutely aware that they have witness how to manage a crisis.
One of the new additions for this year event, was the badge which allowed sharing contacts by simultaneously pressing buttons
No need for business cards.
What I was amazed by, was the diversity of the contacts I made.
Cacao and coffee bean traders from Cameroon, electrical car executives from Germany, and bankers from Hong Kong.
Bankers, CEOs, heads of state, all mingled at The Ritz Carlton in Riyadh
At a Future Investment Initiative (FII) convergence, it’s hard to believe that this is only the second time this event has taken place, despite the shadow cast by the Khashoggi case – it is a fantastic event and an air of positivity regarding business in the Kingdom was palpable.
The wide ranging topics had a Saudi centric global outlook
Those on panels as well, were all leaders of global organisations; people from a business sense, that are not unused to managing crises.
In fact, the ability to manage a crisis is often how careers are judged in the business world.
It is the domestic policy that is important here.
We heard of NEOM project in the Red Sea, what the Kingdom is doing to encourage its citizens to become active, and what a task there is, to drastically improve a high unemployment rate.
The Crown Prince MBS displayed enormous energy with a typically full schedule
— Lovin Saudi (@LovinSaudi) October 23, 2018
When a country faces a crisis of any sort, whether it is one that requires IMF bailout, or one where there are uprisings, or in this case when it is crisis of a diplomatic kind, one would worry if the country doesn’t have political stability to manage that crisis. The timing of the FII was difficult with the scrutiny of international media, however, in many ways it was amazing to witness the resolve and commitment to reviving a nation.
“I think that the new Europe will be the Middle East. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the next five years will be totally different,”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman
Sometimes a crisis can unite and strengthen a community
If a country that has been under such media scorn, as Saudi Arabia has, can put on a stunning international event to inspire both consumer and foreign investment confidence into an economic plan – it says a lot about the spirit and will of the Saudi people.