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REGIONS MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA


Q&A: KHALIDAAL-FALIH


Building resilience C


SAUDI ARABIA’S INVESTMENT MINISTER TELLS JACOPO DETTONI ABOUT HIS COUNTRY’S EFFORTS TO COPE WITH COVID-19


ovid-19 has not spared Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has been caught at the juncture of the demand/supply shocks


the whole world has experienced, and the col- lapse of the oil market. Yet the reforms set in motion in 2016 under the Vision 2030 strategy have built resilience in the system and given the country a better chance to withstand external shocks, investment minister Khalid A Al-Falih tells fDi.


2020 Saudi Arabia Minster of investment


CURRICULUMVITAE KHALID A AL-FALIH


Previously Minister of energy, industry and mineral resources; Saudi Aramco, president and CEO


the wake of the pandemic?


some of the mega trends taking place, and we have already been driving the country in a co- ordinated way towards building new sectors that aremore focused on qualitative competi- tive advantages than on the transitional resources sectors, like hydrocarbons and min- erals. We are building sectors around technol- ogy, tourism — around the global environmen- tal sustainability and energy transition that is taking place — by empowering our most important resource: our ever renewable youth, both men and women, within the Saudi econ- omy that are already in the driver’s seat of Vision 2030.


Q A


would like to say this is the biggest shockweare going to see, but we don’t know that yet. Ten years ago, everyone was thinking that the great financial crisis was the crisis thatwould end all crises with the resilience it forced to build in the financial sector, and now we are living


Q A


WEHAVE ALREADY BEEN DRIVING THECOUNTRY INACO-ORDINATED WAY TOWARDS BUILDINGNEWSECTORS


94


What kind of incentives have you intro- duced to support the economy?


The biggest incentive is ensuring its resil- ience and capacity to absorb shocks. I


We were already in the midst of an adjust- ment. With Vision 2030, we anticipated


How has the Saudi Arabian government adjusted its investment proposition in


through something bigger andmore difficult. It’s important for any country, and their


public and private sectors, to build resilience to withstandunexpected shocks. Saudi Arabia has proven to be one of the most resilient econo- mies.Weexperienced the confluence of an eco- nomic, demand, health and even psychological crisis. And of course this was compounded by the oil market crisis, given the importance of oil in our economy. Yet our financial sector is stronger than


ever, our credit rating maintained — our economy is shrinking a bit and unemploy- ment has risen in the past few months, but we are on our way to recovery. We have opened up and proven to the private sector that we look after them and the people first. It’s important that the government ensures this sense of security and safety. Another thing is making sure that the regulation is predictable and that honest conversation is ongoing with the private sector.


on specific sectors, addressing domestic demandandparticular exportsmarkets in logis- tics, advanced manufacturing, biotech, chemi- cals and maritime industries. We are also designing specific SEZs for finance and tourism.


Q A


Q A


You were formerly chief executive of Saudi Aramco and the energy minister. Howdo you assess the current oil market?


My outlook is that oil will continue to be the backbone of the energy mix for dec-


ades to come. There is urgency in the environ- mental arena to switch to non-fossil fuels, but I do not think that is realistic. If we were to do that, we would be slowing the global economy significantly and adding another risk factor to the ones we are already experiencing. What we need is a managed transition. The


kingdom is an active player — we are already active in energy efficiency, switching to gas and also introducing hydrogen, renewables, green ammonia and blue ammonia. The kingdomis a leader in those fields.■


This interview was recorded at the FT Global Summit on October 21.


www.fDiIntelligence.com December 2020/January 2021


The government is also introducing free zones?


We have a series of special economic zones (SEZs) in a design stage. They will be focused


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