Saudi Energy Minister: Next wave of industrial revolution to be led by youth

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Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih has said that the next wave of industrial revolution will be powered by small and medium-sized enterprises led primarily by the youth.

Al-Falih was speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which kicked off on Saturday in Jordan’s Dead Sea region. His session was focused on Saudi Arabia’s new vision for industrialization in the Middle East and was moderated by WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.

“His Royal Highness (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) did say that the Middle East will be the next Europe and it’s not going to be underpinned by simply hope and positive attitude, but by a lot of transformative initiatives that many of the leaders are undertaking,” al-Falih told the conference attendees while adding that it was more importantly “by a belief in the young people.”

“Young people in Saudi Arabia and in the region are highly educated, they do believe in their capabilities and we’re seeing entrepreneurial enterprises across the Kingdom that are supporting the major government-led reforms and a strong private sector,” al-Falih said.

According to al-Falih, Saudi Arabia is on its own journey of transformation and reform but emphasized its willingness to work with the rest of the world.

“But we also see this and hope to do this while the rest of the Middle East will rise with us. As they say, the rising tide will lift all boats,” the Saudi energy minister said.

Al-Falih then spoke on Saudi Arabia’s next step in its industrial history by talking about its recently-launched National Industrial Development and Logistics Program which aims to fuel up 12 sectors in the Saudi economy, including energy, petrochemicals, mining, and the automotive industry.

“It’s going to combine a very strong natural resource advantage in minerals and energies. I’m not only talking about conventional energy in oil and gas, but also renewables. We will have the largest renewable program. Industries that are underpinned by technology and innovation and a strong research ecosystem that has been started and will continue to grow in the Kingdom and powered by SMEs and entrepreneurial enterprises led by the youth,” he said.

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