‘Forces for good being unleashed’ in Gulf economies: IMF Managing Director

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“Forces for good” are being unleashed in Gulf economies including female participation in the workforce and diversification away from oil, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told Al Arabiya.

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Georgieva noted that Saudi Arabia’s target to have women make up 30 percent of the workforce by 2030 has already been met.

“We also have seen significant progress in diversifying the economy,” she said on the sidelines of a conference in Riyadh on Monday. “The non-oil sectors are growing quite consistently and there are forces for good that are being unleashed.”

The IMF leader also praised neighboring countries including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar for making similar strides.

“These are engines of growth that have been kept idle and are now operating at full speed.”

Georgieva said that the IMF is projecting a growth slowdown in the Gulf next year, due mainly to lower oil and gas revenues.

The 2023 projection of 3.6 percent growth, compared to an estimated 6.4 percent in 2022, is also partly due to the fact that Gulf countries saw a boost as they rebounded from COVID-19 slowdowns.

Gulf countries have also made a new commitment not to increase spending as revenue increased, reflecting a “very different Gulf region.”

The IMF announced on Monday that it would be opening an office in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.

“It is very important for the IMF to be close to our members,” Georgieva said, “and this is a regional office that would improve and speed up our engagement with all the GCC countries.”

Having a base in Riyadh will allow the organization to calibrate policy advice to the conditions of a country during this turbulent economic time, she explained, noting that “time is of the essence.”

Another reason for opening the office is to bring experience from elsewhere into the region, and to use the experience gained by Gulf countries that have “gone a long way” to reforming themselves.

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