Frank Kane, Riyadh
The WEF believes its Davos summit in Riyadh in April can help to resolve some of the pressing issues facing the region and the world, the organization’s president told Arab News on Wednesday.
“The interesting thing in the Middle East is that you are faced with two kinds of realities at the same time,” Borge Brende said.
“It has one of the youngest populations in the world, with a lot of innovation and entrepreneurship going on, but at the same time you see a lot of conflicts and proxy wars. There are two realities, but we will focus mainly on the opportunities.”
The WEF is inviting 600 global thought leaders in business, policy making and technology to Riyadh for the summit, and Brende visited the Saudi capital to meet officials and policymakers in preparation for the event.
“Saudi Arabia is the first country in the Arab world to stage the G20 presidency, but merits focus anyway because it is the largest economy in the region,” he said.
The summit will take place amid a worsening global economic outlook, as well as the uncertain economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak in China. “We are seeing slowing growth and there has to be a real strategy on how to avoid a future recession,” Brende said.
The WEF president noted that travel to Saudi Arabia had been made significantly easier recently with the introduction of online visas, and the relaxation of restrictions on women in the Kingdom.
“Around 24 per cent of delegates at Davos last month were women. We would like to have parity, and if we can do better in Riyadh that would be great,” he said.