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Key Financial Summit 'Davos in the Desert' Begins in Saudi Arabia, PM Modi to Deliver Keynote Address

The forum, dubbed 'Davos in the desert', is an initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who plans to diversify the Kingdom's economy while reducing its economic dependence on petroleum products under his ambitious vision 2030 plan.

Updated:October 29, 2019, 2:20 PM IST
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Key Financial Summit 'Davos in the Desert' Begins in Saudi Arabia, PM Modi to Deliver Keynote Address
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Saudi Arabia. (Twitter/@PMOIndia)

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday inaugurated a three-day high-profile financial summit, being attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other world leaders, aimed at drawing foreign investors to help the Gulf Kingdom diversify its oil-based economy.

The forum, dubbed "Davos in the desert", is an initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who plans to diversify the Kingdom's economy while reducing its economic dependence on petroleum products under his ambitious vision 2030 plan.

The three-day Future Investment Initiative, as the forum is officially known, will host financiers, governments, and industry leaders who would discuss global trade and explore the trends, opportunities and challenges shaping the global investment landscape over the coming decades.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and President Donald Trump's advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner is also attending the forum, which witnessed mass boycott last year in the wake of the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Kushner will address a special session on the future of the United States. Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in Riyadh late Monday night on a two-day visit, will deliver the keynote address under the title 'What's next for India?' at the forum.

"I will speak about the growing trade and investment opportunities for the global investors in India as the country marches forward to a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024," Modi said in his departure statement on Monday.

The high-profile forum is being attended by a number of world leaders this year. King Abdullah of Jordan, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former British prime minister David Cameron are among the speakers at the forum, which would be attended by more than 6,000 people from over 30 countries.

The FII is organised by the Public Investment Fund, the Kingdom's main investment arm and one of the world's leading sovereign wealth funds. The forum is intended to project the Kingdom as the future investment hub in the region.

Several top bankers and CEOs from around the world are also attending the summit, which will cover a range of issues such as the future of the global economy, investments and entertainment. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of the Reliance Industries Limited, India will also speak at the forum on the topic 'The next decade: How will a new era of economic ambition shape the global economy?'

This is Prime Minister Modi's second visit to the Gulf Kingdom. During his first visit in 2016, King Salman conferred Saudi's highest civilian award on him. Crown Prince Mohammed visited India in February 2019, giving a further fillip to the bilateral ties.

India's relations with Saudi Arabia have been on an upswing over the last few years. India's bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.

Saudi Arabia last month said it was looking at investing USD 100 billion in India in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining.

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