(MENAFN) The FII Priority conference recently heard that economic and social reforms being carried out on a national level in Saudi Arabia and on a city level in Miami offer a model for progress and development that can be emulated worldwide. FII Chairman and Saudi Public Investment Fund Gov. Yasir Al-Rumayyan joined Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to discuss how humanity can overcome the challenges of a post-COVID world marked by the war in Ukraine, potential economic crises, catastrophic weather events, and rising living costs.
Mayor Suarez explained how he had transformed Miami's economy through lower taxation, investment in public security, and attracting the future technology industry to the city. He drew parallels between Miami's transformation and Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 plan, which Al-Rumayyan said could be achieved anywhere in the world by conducting a full diagnostic of an economy and society, setting benchmarks, targets, and key performance indicators.
Al-Rumayyan highlighted the progress already made in the Kingdom, including having 37 percent female employment by 2020, 7 percent more than initially expected, and Saudi Arabia's 8.7 percent gross domestic product growth in 2022, which was 1.2 percent more than predicted by the IMF, making it the fastest-growing economy in the G20.
Al-Rumayyan stressed that Vision 2030 aims not only to create jobs but also to create "good quality" jobs that will engage an ever-youthful workforce. He also emphasized that a healthy investment portfolio such as the Kingdom's is crucial to sustainable progress and development. He revealed that its assets are currently worth USD650 billion but plans to expand this to USD1 trillion by 2025 and between USD2-USD3 trillion by 2030.
As chairman of Saudi Aramco, Al-Rumayyan outlined the company's green energy ambitions and its low-emission credentials. However, he warned that the approach of some countries towards fossil fuels threatened the likelihood of achieving real development as a result of chasing unrealistic clean energy goals. Completely dropping fossil fuels is not a practical solution for global development and progress, Al-Rumayyan said, adding that the shift from traditional to renewable sources of energy would be a slow process, particularly since much of the net zero infrastructure still requires petrochemicals and fossil fuels to produce.
Al-Rumayyan also criticized some governments' bullying of oil and gas companies because of the climate mission, saying that instead of stopping them, they should have tried to fix the problem. He warned that following a certain ideal or ideology without considering its consequences could lead to the oil crisis since less exploration would mean less supply, and demand would increase because of the shift to renewables. The transition from fossil fuels to renewables takes time, and the world should have long-term views, Al-Rumayyan said, adding that the problem we face now is damage to the environment and the affordability of energy for the world's people.
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