Thrust on transformation, empowerment of women

Saudi-British CEO forum concludes in London


ON the sidelines of the historic visit to the United Kingdom by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, a special forum was held on Thursday with multiple sessions hosting different government and business leaders of Saudi Arabia and Britain.

The forum, organized by the Saudi Center for Strategic Partnerships, aimed to set up the future of economic and investment relations and open new aspects of cooperation and partnership between the two countries in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The panel discussions and roundtables at the Saudi-UK CEO Forum focused mainly on women empowerment in Saudi Arabia and the transformations being taken place in both the kingdoms. The forum provided an exclusive platform for Saudi and British government and business leaders to celebrate the close bonds between the two countries and strengthen future strategic and commercial relationships, as they embark on transformative journeys.

The panel discussions were titled "An Era of Transformation: From Vision to Implementation"; "Women in Leadership: Empowering Rising Leaders"; "Giga-projects: An Eye Towards the Future"; and "Ensuring Stability: Creating Thriving Partnerships".

Speakers at the panel discussion on "Women in Leadership: Empowering Rising Leaders" were Vice President of Saudi General Sports Authority Princess Reema Bint Bandar, CEO of MiSK Foundation Deema Al-Yayha, Executive Director of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Dr. Basma S. Al-Buhairan, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Tamadher Alramah, CEO of SAMBA Financial Group Rania Nashar and CEO of EMEA Darktrace Poppy Gustafsson.

Princess Reema highlighted the empowerment of Saudi women with their pioneering participation at the official levels, including decision-making and consultative bodies such as the Shoura Council. She noted that the Saudi leadership seeks to configure the appropriate environment and atmosphere for the success of the Saudi women in the sports field.

For her part, Dr. Tamader Al-Rammah, deputy minister of labor and social development, lauded the great cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom in the field of training and rehabilitation. “It is great that the Saudi leadership has taken recently several decisions to enable Saudi women to take up more jobs in the local employment market and the ministry is extending continuous support to women, especially women with special needs to enter the job market,” she added.

In her speech, Al-Yahya said around 64 percent of graduates in the technical field in the Kingdom are women and the foundation focuses on attracting more women to work in the fields of sports and artificial intelligence.

Nashar said women make up around 65 percent of graduates from Saudi universities while they account for 20 percent of scholarship students sent abroad for pursuing higher studies.

The panelists discussed various aspects of the opening up of opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia. With the role of women becoming a central pillar to the Saudi Vision 2030, the discussion aimed at outlining the socio-economic reforms undertaken by the Saudi government to create an environment for women to play a greater role in society. Key areas for discussion included: Identify mechanisms that encourage female participation at all levels of society, government and business; understanding the challenges facing women entrepreneurs and business leaders and applying this to shape future policy actions; and showcasing the progress made and dispel any cultural misunderstandings.

Speakers at the first panel discussion, titled "An Era of Transformation: From Vision to Implementation" included Minister of Energy, Mining and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Commerce and Investment Majed Al-Kasabi, Minister of Economy and Planning Muhammad Al-Tuwaijri, UK Special Representative on Saudi Vision 2030 Ken Costa, CEO of Dow Chemical Andrew Liveris and British Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion Baroness Fairhead.

In his speech, Al-Falih highlighted the ambitious vision and the importance of its implementation through harnessing all potentials for this national vision, which consists of 12 programs in various fields, including energy and industrial sectors.

“The Kingdom’s logistic services are the core of local production, filling gaps in the fields of oil, gas and renewable energy, contributing to international competitiveness and exporting the Saudi services and goods that will be between the Kingdom and Britain, as the Kingdom did with the United States of America, China and others,” he said, adding that the Saudi-UK Strategic Partnership brings about eight joint programs where the United Kingdom is the third state dealing with Saudi Arabia in addition to US and China.

Al-Falih stressed that sectors such as renewable energy, advanced technology and medicines, will grow at a faster pace, pointing out that great opportunities are waiting for the UK companies to contribute in this growth, particularly in the chemicals sector.

He affirmed that Saudi Arabia and Britain are strategic allies, while highlighting programs of mining, oil cooperation and the suitable environment. “The world seeks to be without carbon,” he said while confirming the Kingdom’s ambitious steps of using renewable energy.

Addressing the forum, Minister of Commerce and Investment Al-Kasabi highlighted the history of trade on the Arabian Peninsula. He said the Kingdom is now one of the largest powers in the global economy and its ambitious Vision 2030 holds the future of modern life in the country while maintaining its heritage and renewing its strategic partnerships through many projects.

Al-Tuwaijri said the Kingdom is rich in its potentials and capabilities and has implemented many reforms in the judicial system and financial market before attracting the global investments.