The GCC region has the potential to emerge as a "global trade hub", considering its unique geographical location, noted Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Mohamed al-Jadaan.
Speaking at a panel session at the Qatar Economic Forum Wednesday, al-Jadaan emphasised that the GCC region is in the middle of cross-trade routes that connect Asia, Africa, and Europe.
“That gives you a competitive advantage. And we are actually seeing it in the number of ports listed in the top 10 worldwide, and they are from the region. The Gulf region has possibly the busiest airports worldwide in terms of international passenger traffic,” al-Jadaan said. The GCC region, he said, is a "very bright spot in a very difficult world today."
“This did not come by coincidence. It came through very strong progress executed through long-time co-ordination, to diversify the economy.”
He complimented Qatar for the hugely successful conduct of the FIFA World Cup and noted, “We are all proud of it.”
“When I landed here (Doha) the previous night, I could not believe the developments that have happened here.”
Al-Jadaan touched upon the kingdom’s long-term infrastructure development plans outlined in its Vision 2030, which focuses on diversifying the economy away from hydrocarbon resources.
He said investing in infrastructure is part of Saudi’s long-term plans.
“And we are not keeping it to ourselves. Actually, we are trying to make sure that not just the GCC, but the wider region gets benefits.”
Al-Jadaan also highlighted the developmental milestones Saudi Arabia achieved over the past few years and said the kingdom was the fastest-growing economy among the G20 countries in 2022.
Unemployment is the lowest-ever in Saudi Arabia, while employment in the private sector is the highest-ever, he noted.
Al-Jadaan further pointed out that women’s participation in Saudi Arabia’s workforce is currently 36%, which is double the figure from five years ago.
On the United States’ debt ceiling crisis, he said: “I hope wisdom will prevail and prevail sooner (rather than later) ... it is not easy to play with the international markets, and when they catch a cold, everybody will sneeze.”