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Saudi Arabia Moves ‘Davos in the Desert’ to Jan 2021

Saudi Arabia has delayed its annual Future Investment Initiative conference because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The event, hosted by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund and dubbed Davos in the Desert by participants due to the presence of world leaders and captains of industry, was scheduled for October, according to the website for the conference. It will now be held on Jan. 26-28, Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative Institute said in a statement.

Organized by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the last annual event was held on October 29–31, 2019.

Thousands of delegates, including world leaders, Wall Street titans and policy-makers from dozens of countries, packed into Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The summit, dubbed “Davos in the desert”, was launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in October 2017 to woo foreign investors and promote his Vision 2030 diversification plan to wean the economy off its dependence on petro-dollars.

The event featured the announcements of the launch of NEOM, a proposed $500bn independent economic zone in the northwest of Saudi Arabia.

PIF

The PIF is among the largest (8th) sovereign wealth funds in the world with total estimated assets of $360 billion.

Early this year the fund made a bid to acquire a strategic stake in Newcastle United Football Club. Unfortunately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the investment rationale could not be sustained.

The fund has stakes in Uber Technologies Inc and electric car company Lucid Motors. This year it accumulated stakes in four major European oil companies and disclosed an 8.2% stake in cruise operator Carnival Corp.

Earlier this month, it also disclosed stakes in Boeing Co., Citigroup Inc , Facebook Inc.,, Walt Disney Co and Marriott.

The fund has been targeting quality, long-term, trophy and strategic investments, locally and globally, observers say.