Saudi Arabia has opened a major investment conference aimed at shining a spotlight on the country's efforts to diversify its revenue streams and overhaul its economy and society.
At the heart of these reforms are plans to build the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) which grabbed headlines with a $3.5 billion investment in ride-hailing service Uber last year.
The Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference, which runs for three days, will include a speech by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Addressing over 2,500 delegates and leading business figures from more than 60 countries, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the kingdom’s deputy prime minister and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and PIF, has invited attendees to debate the opportunities and challenges that will shape the world economy and investment environment over the coming decades.
The first day of the conference has begun with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin leading a panel of financial experts in debating the new social, economic and intellectual frameworks needed to drive progress. In particular, the session will discuss the emerging trends which will likely have the greatest impact, and how public and private sector leaders can use these to succeed. Those speaking on the panel are:
PIF Managing Director Yasir O. Al-Rumayyan, Chairman & CEO of First Eastern Investment Group Victor Chu, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock Larry Fink, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates David McCormick and President and CEO of Saudi Aramco Amin Nasser.
Future of artificial intelligence, robotics
Another key session will examine breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, big data, social media, medical science, and smart infrastructure are now converging to reinvent cities for the twenty-first century. Moderated by Maria Bartiromo, Global Markets Editor for Fox Business, high-profile participants will include Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of Softbank Group.
An expo featuring the future Giga-projects will take place during the event, which are a key element of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic program. The expo will offer delegates a glimpse of the future and unique experiences, utilizing cutting edge technology.
The first day will conclude with energy executives congregating at the Summit on Energy for a Sustainable Planet to discuss which technologies and innovations will shape the sector over the next ten years. Taking place in the context of volatile oil prices and significant advances in energy and environmental technologies, the Summit will also examine the challenges of diversification through investment in renewable resources.
Powered by PIF, the FII will take place from Oct. 24 to 26 in Riyadh and will be an invitation-only event being organized in the context of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a blueprint that is already charting the path for the Kingdom to harness its strategic location and strong investment capabilities.