Governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority Outlines Economic Strategy

March 31, 2009

Dean George Daly and Amr Al Dabbagh at Georgetown University March 23

His Excellency Amr Al Dabbagh, governor and chairman of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, met with Georgetown University McDonough School of Business students, faculty, and staff March 23 to discuss economic developments in Saudi Arabia. Since being appointed to lead the authority in 2004, Al Dabbagh has spearheaded the 10 x 10 Economic Strategy, which aims to make Saudi Arabia one of the world's most competitive nations by 2010.

Al Dabbagh talked about Saudi Arabia's investments in human capital, education, services, and infrastructure. He detailed a three-point strategy toward competitiveness, which is anchored in institutional change, building economic cities, and becoming a global leader in the energy sector.

"We have introduced policies that give foreign investors 100 percent ownership of their investments," he said. "We have also built economic cities, such as the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), that provide the best work, play, and live environment for investors. And we are committed to developing our energy sector holistically, by investing in petrochemicals, minerals, power and water."

Al Dabbagh named education and human capital as additional key factors to Saudi Arabia's development. "We know that a knowledge-based society is integral to economic success," he explained. "That is why the government has pledged a $10 billion endowment for research and development in nanotechnology, biotechnology, communications technology, and other educational initiatives." He also answered students' questions regarding entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia, the banking industry, as well as the taxation regime.

Al Dabbagh believes Saudi Arabia is on track to meet its 10 x 10 objectives, citing the fact that Saudi Arabia is now ranked as the 16th most competitive nation in global competitive rankings, and is the 18th largest recipient of foreign direct investment.

"In our region, we are second to none," Al Dabbagh said. Despite the global economic crisis, Saudi Arabia plans to spend 400 billion dollars on infrastructure in the next five years. "What others view as crisis," he said, "we see as a great opportunity."