Riyadh hosted a global conference on Feb. 25 when the Asia House Middle East Trade Dialogue convened in the city. The dialogue looked ahead to the Kingdom’s key priorities for 2020, with sustainability, renewable energies and the role of women in the economy on the agenda. Wider developments and key trends in world trade were also explored by leading business and policy figures.
Lubna Olayan, chair, Saudi British Bank (SABB), gave the keynote speech at the forum, organized by Asia House — a London-based center of expertise on trade and investment in Asia and sponsored by SABB.
Other speakers included Simon Penney, UK trade commissioner to the Middle East; David Dew, managing director, SABB; and Victor Gao, vice president, Center for China and Globalization.
Lord Green, chairman of Asia House and former UK trade minister, said: “The Middle East remains an extremely important region for global trade, especially as the Gulf broadens its relationships with Asian markets. Just last year, more than 1,000 international companies set up new operations in Saudi Arabia, highlighting business interest in the Kingdom.
“With Saudi Arabia hosting the G20 this year, we believe it is an important time to bring our trade dialogue to Riyadh to explore the economic shifts taking place in the region and beyond. We are particularly honored to have Lubna Olayan share her unique insights with our audience of senior business and investment figures.”
Olayan said: “Trade has historically always been important to the development of the Kingdom, and that is equally true today as the Far East and the Middle East are once again becoming increasingly connected and we begin a year in which Saudi Arabia leads the G20, with deliberations around trade and investment being a major focus of the B20.
“Through our partnership with HSBC, we are well positioned to support the growing trade volumes with Asia, and we see significant opportunities for collaboration with initiatives such as China’s Belt and Road and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Our shared desire to fast-track the digitization of trade through continuous innovation, led to SABB being the first bank in Saudi Arabia to complete a blockchain-based trade transaction, a milestone of which we are especially proud.”
The conference featured discussions on the key issues shaping both regional and global trade, such as women leaders and sustainability and the rise of clean energy.