RIYADH hosted a global conference on 25 February 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 will also be explored by leading business and policy figures.
Lubna Olayan, Chair, Saudi British Bank (SABB), gave the keynote speech at the forum, organised by Asia House - the London-based centre of expertise on trade and investment in Asia.
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 one thousand 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 honoured to be welcoming Lubna Olayan to share her unique insights with our audience of senior business and investment figures.”
SABB, the leading bank for trade in Saudi Arabia, sponsored the event, as well taking the stage to debate opportunities between Asia and the Kingdom.
Lubna Olayan, Chair, SABB, 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.
“It is truly an exciting time, so we are pleased to be jointly hosting this important event to explore opportunities for enhancing and facilitating growing trade links between the Far East and the Middle East. “
The conference featured discussions on the key issue shaping both regional and global trade:
Panel session – Global Trade
Saudi Arabia’s chairing of the G20 comes amid increasing uncertainty in world trade. Tensions between the US and China continue to disrupt global commerce and investment against a backdrop of slowing economic growth. In the Middle East, diversification away from energy exports continue to drive the agenda, placing more emphasis on growing the relationship with Asian markets and opening up major opportunities.
Panel session – Women Leading Change
Global research shows that increased gender diversity in management creates a stronger base for innovation, creative thinking and increased productivity within a work environment. Covering both global trends and Saudi Arabia’s recent policy changes, the forum will look at how organisations and society more widely are benefiting and developing from the increased inclusion of women in the economy.
Panel session - Sustainability and the Rise of Clean Energy
In a bid to combat climate change, the world is increasingly focusing on reducing carbon emissions and developing more sustainable ways of dealing with an ever- increasing need for energy. The conference will look at changing global energy demands and the rise of renewables, focusing closely on the recent billion-dollar investments into Saudi renewable projects.
The conference was held with the support of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and is convened as part of the Asia House Middle East Programme.
© Press Release 2020