SAUDI ARABIA: A flagship investment event orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, starting on Tuesday, will not deter Wall Street business executives from attending the event, despite the recent spat between the United States and Saudi Arabia over the OPEC+ decision to cut oil output targets.
The Islamic kingdom will seek profitable deals to reduce its economy’s heavy reliance on oil and lure foreign investors from the Wall Street neighbourhood.
President Joe Biden has warned of serious “consequences” for U.S.-Saudi ties over the recent OPEC+ decision, which Riyadh defended as serving market stability.
The disagreement was the latest squabble with Saudi Arabia over the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII), which has been severely hampered by a Western boycott over the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the pandemic in 2020.
After the contentious incident surrounding Khashoggi’s death, FII finally bounced back in 2019, luring prominent figures from the finance, defence, and energy industries with significant stakes in the top oil exporter in the world, but received only a little amount of foreign investment.
According to Richard Attias, CEO of the FII institute, more than 400 American delegates are expected to participate this week. He added that this was the greatest foreign country representation at the conference.
This year’s conference, which runs from October 25 to 27, will feature top speakers like Jamie Dimon, vice chairman of Pimco, and a BNY Mellon executive. These companies’ spokesmen have confirmed that these delegates will be in attendance.
Moreover, other big-money corporations are on the list, including Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, Bridgewater Associates, Boeing, and Franklin Templeton.
According to Refinitiv statistics, business tycoons from JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs collected about $77 million and $42 million in investment banking fees in Saudi Arabia last year, respectively. JPM continues to lead even in 2022, having earned nearly $39 million so far.
According to Adel Hamaizia, managing director of Highbridge Advisory and visiting fellow at Harvard University, “For the most part, I do not see U.S. corporations actively avoiding Saudi Arabia owing to recent political difficulties.”
According to Hamaizia, “U.S. corporations will be a significant partner to Saudi Arabia’s investment and growth aspirations, in both traditional sectors and in ‘newer’ ones like tourism, entertainment, EV production, technology, and a budding local defence industry.”
The FII is a manifestation of Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 development scheme to reduce the country’s insistence on oil exports as the major source of national income by launching new industries that also generate jobs for millions of Saudis and to bring in foreign investment and capital.