ISLAMABAD, Oct 22, 2018: Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Saudi Arabia Monday to attend the Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC) dubbed as ‘Davos in the Desert’, in Riyadh. He is paying the visit on special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz.
The two-day event is being held in the Saudi capital from 23-25 October (Tuesday-Thursday).
The FIIC was set up last year as a kind of “Davos” in the Desert for the world’s business elite to network, though it has no ties to the annual World Economic Forum summit in Davos.
On Saturday, the organizers said that more than 120 speakers and moderators will participate in conference as government officials continue to seek status from world indexes as an emerging market. Analysts say the Saudi government hopes that the label from MSCI will lead to a massive influx of new money from global investors and vice versa.
The Pakistani premier’s team comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Industry Abdul Razzak Dawood aims to network among participants and project Pakistan’s economic and investment potential and the [premier’s] vision of the country in the five years to come.
A statement issued from the PM’s team said the conference, which will host businessmen and “representatives of hi-tech industry” from around the world, will serve as an “opportunity to interact with important business leaders who are interested in investing in Pakistan”.
The prime minister’s participation in the conference signifies Pakistan’s “solidarity with the Kingdom in its efforts to become emerging hub of international business and investment”, the statement said.
It will be PM Khan’s second visit to Saudi Arabia in just a little over a month.
Khan will also meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to discuss “matters of mutual interest”.
In coming days, the premier also plans to visit Malaysia followed by his first trip to “all-weather friend” China after forming the government in August.
PM Khan has inherited an economy on the edge and help has been in short supply, and economists’ warnings have grown increasingly urgent.
Khan told journalists on Wednesday prior to leaving for the kingdom, that Pakistan may not have to approach the IMF for a possible bailout package.
The premier said his government is in contact with friendly countries to resolve the crisis.
The Saudi as well as Malaysian and China tour comes as Pakistan continues to court “friendly” nations in search of billions of dollars to shore up its deteriorating finances as it faces a balance of payment crisis. Talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a potential bailout are due in November.
The 60-days old government led by Khan has promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.
Calling overseas Pakistanis “our greats asset”, he has announced incentives for enhancing their remittances through legal channels and has been encouraging them to participate in investing projects back home, such as the ‘Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme’ to build 5 million homes in 5 years, a task that seems doable to some and impossible to others.