G-20: Kingdom’s focus on global economic growth, job creation

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, being welcomed on his arrival in Brisbane where he will attend the G-20 Summit.

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, being welcomed on his arrival in Brisbane where he will attend the G-20 Summit.

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, arrived in Brisbane on Thursday with a high-power delegation for the G-20 Summit that will focus on the key challenges of global economic growth, job creation and shielding nations from financial shocks.

Prince Salman will join a band of 20 heads of state and hundreds of high-ranking officials for the summit starting on Saturday. Leaders and delegations from Argentina, Brazil, and 2015 summit host Turkey, also converged on Brisbane on Thursday.

“Besides participating in the G-20 summit, Crown Prince Salman will also hold bilateral talks with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during his stay in Brisbane,” said David Nettlefold, a spokesman of the Australian Embassy, here Thursday.

The delegation of the crown prince consists of several high-ranking officials including Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chief of the crown prince’s court; Ibrahim Al-Assaf, minister of finance; Bandar Hajjar, the Haj minister and acting minister of culture and information; Nizar Madani, minister of state for foreign affairs; and Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Mubarak, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.

The Saudi delegation will stay at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast in Australia, and transported to the G-20 summit by helicopter. “Al-Assaf will hold bilateral talks with Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey, while Madani will have bilateral consultations with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop,” said Ian Dickson, first secretary at the Australian Embassy.

Ammar Al-Hassan, a political analyst, said that Saudi role is significant because it is the only member of the G-20 that belongs to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. He said that US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to attend the summit amid growing tensions over Ukraine.

“Observers attach great important to the Saudi participation at the summit with the theme of economic growth, employment and avoidance of financial shocks,” said a SPA.

The Kingdom has the second-largest sovereign investment fund in the world, and the largest in the Arab world. Its cash reserves rose by 17 percent to over SR2.54 trillion, which is one of the highest in the world, the report stated.

Analysts have lauded the Kingdom for being one of the best-performing G-20 economies but said the key to long-term sustainable economic growth lies in the diversification of its economy. “The country’s monetary policy closely follows US monetary policy through the fixed exchange rate. Budget revenues are thus determined by oil-export proceeds and the US dollar-driven exchange rate,” said a report.

The Kingdom is expected to show solid economic growth this year, a different picture from the many recession-hit economies around the world. Growth of 4.4 percent is forecast for 2014, which is in line with the International Monetary Fund forecast, said Fahad Al-Mubarak, SAMA governor, recently. The government’s spending in 2014 is set at SR855 billion, equal to its estimated revenues for the year.

On the bilateral front, Saudi Arabia and Australia have forged closer ties in different sectors. The establishment of the Australia-Saudi Business Council in 2013 supports the promotion of bilateral business ties.

The summit venue in Brisbane has a thriving Muslim community, including several mosques, halaal butchers, restaurants and supermarkets, delivering high quality services for Muslims living in the city. Brisbane’s first mosque was built in 1908 in the suburb of Holland Park. The original building was replaced in 1970.


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