Saudi Arabia is attracting growing international interest once again as world oil prices show signs of increasing in anticipation of a global economic recovery, even though some think that may take longer than expected. But, at a time when many governments, companies and investors are deeply affected by a shortage of credit and liquidity, the Kingdom is also garnering attention because of the wealth of its financial reserves and overseas assets, which are estimated to total some one trillion dollars. Now, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) plans to use those attractions to encourage some $600bn worth of investments in the country itself.
In this exclusive interview with the Chairman and Governor of SAGIA, Amr Al Dabbagh, PAMELA ANN SMITH asked him why the Kingdom needs such investments, given its wealth. And, drawing on AI Dabbagh's comments to the media during his recent travels, she shares his views with TME readers about what the Kingdom has to offer foreign investors and what companies in Europe, the US and Asia can expect from Saudi investors in turn.
His Excellency Amr Al Dabbagh is the man of the moment, or so it would seem, having just completed a global tour that has taken in the US, Europe, Kazakhstan, Japan and South Korea. Everywhere, world leaders have feted him. In mid-June, his host in the United Kingdom was the Duke of York, who sponsored a seminar for the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), at the Queen's residence in London, Buckingham Palace. The media likes him too: Time magazine, CNBC, the international business channel, the Financial Times and the prestigious international financial monthly, Institutional Investor--to name just a few--have all featured long interviews with him in the past few months.
So what's his secret? As Governor and Chairman of SAGIA, a cabinet-level agency that gives Al Dabbagh ministerial ranking, he has put forth a vision of the Kingdom's future that is exciting investors both at home and abroad and all those seeking a share of the Kingdom's huge oil wealth. Among the $600bn worth of projects on SAGIA's drawing board are his favourites: four new mega "economic cities" in Rabigh, Hail, Madinah and Jizan that will help the country diversify its economy and create more than a million jobs for the country's rapidly growing population of 28m.
After gaining a BA in business administration from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah in 1988, he...