With its hosting of the G20, the World Economic Forum, and the record Saudi Aramco IPO, 2020 was shaping up to be a landmark year for Saudi Arabia.
However, the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic – which has seen energy demand slump – and the collapsing value of oil amid the Saudi-Russia price war has presented major challenges for the kingdom.
Against this backdrop, Asia House welcomed Neil Crompton, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to share the view from Riyadh on these challenges, and how he envisages the government’s response to them playing out.
The Ambassador, who took up post just days before the Asia House Middle East Trade Dialogue in Riyadh in February 2020, gave an overview of the economic situation in Saudi Arabia before the discussion was opened up to Corporate Members, who joined the off-the-record briefing from around the world.
Topics discussed included market liberalisation and how Saudi Arabia is attracting FDI into the kingdom; the challenges facing UK companies in the region arising from VAT changes and the ongoing ‘Saudi-isation’ of the workforce; and the future of the Vision 2030 initiative and its big-ticket projects.
The Ambassador also answered questions on geopolitical issues, including Saudi Arabia’s relations with China, Qatar and the US.
The briefing, held on 17 June, was organised as part of the Asia House Middle East Programme – a series of private briefings, public events and research activities aimed at driving broader engagement with the region.
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