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Saudi Arabia to hold WEF meeting in April

The WEF meeting is part of what Saudi finance minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan has said is 'a strong Saudi' that can help the region Reuters
The WEF meeting is part of what Saudi finance minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan has said is 'a strong Saudi' that can help the region
  • WEF meeting on 28-29 April
  • First outside Davos since pandemic
  • Aims to establish Saudi as stable

Saudi Arabia plans to host a World Economic Forum meeting in April, the first WEF gathering outside the Swiss ski resort of Davos since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saudi Arabia’s economy minister Faisal Alibrahim told Reuters on 18 January, during the current meeting in Davos, that the meeting will be held on 28-29 April. It aims to brand the kingdom as an oasis of stability. 

WEF president Borge Brende said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had been involved in the talks on holding the April meeting. 

Set up in 1971 to develop its founder Klaus Schwab’s notion of “stakeholder capitalism”, WEF normally holds a summer and winter meeting of global political and business leaders at the Swiss mountain resort of Davos. 

Since becoming a leading forum for globalisation in the 1990s, WEF has tried to pitch itself as the premier gathering of the world’s elites. 

Saudi Arabia tried to tap into the Davos energy when it dubbed its first Future Investment Initiative in 2017 as “Davos in the desert”.

WEF has held special Middle East forums in the past in Istanbul and at the Dead Sea in Jordan. Saudi Arabia is keen to present itself as centre of stability and economic activity, in light of the Gaza war. 

Now the Red Sea conflict between western powers and Houthi rebels in Yemen has raised fears that Saudi Arabia’s mammoth economic development projects could be at risk.

Government ministers have spoken at Davos this week touting the kingdom’s ongoing plans to diversify the economy away from oil. This is centred on giga-projects that have been valued so far at $1.25 trillion and led one real estate consultancy to describe the country as the world’s biggest ever construction site

Minister of finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan told CNN in Davos on 18 January the world was in need of “a strong Saudi” that can help sustain the region through the geopolitical shocks of recent years. 

“We are very determined to double down on what we are doing,” he said

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