The Future Investment Initiative (FII), an international platform for debate between global leaders, investors, and innovators, kicked off in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday with a host of high-profile speakers brought together under the theme “The Neo-Renaissance.”
Opening remarks at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center (KAICC) came from Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and FII Institute Chairman.
Other speakers included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Jamaican eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, Matteo Renzi, former prime minister of Italy, and Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s signature event will also host top global executives like Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s David Solomon, Blackstone Group Inc.’s Steven Schwarzman, and SoftBankCorp.’s Masayoshi Son.
News bits and pieces from the event
Top global asset managers predicted that 2021 would bring a return to growth as nations get the Covid-19 pandemic under control, and with it a rise in inflation.
“We will see a rebound in growth and a rebound in inflation,” Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio said during the opening panel of the Future Investment Initiative, or FII. “With that, you’re also going to see a pick up in deficits,” leading governments to sell more bonds.
That view was shared by BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink, who predicted that developed countries would likely reach herd immunity around September. “I think we are going to have a huge amount of job creation, but all these elements are highly potentially inflationary.”
Saudi Arabia to become center for renewables
Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s top oil producers, is committed to net-zero carbon emissions and plans to become a leader in renewable energy, the country’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said. The country wants to become a pioneer in green and blue hydrogen and aims to convert half its power sector to gas.
China’s currency may see more demand
China is moving toward “internationalization” of its currency which may see more demand, Dalio said. Last year was a defining one for China, he added, and it did a “remarkable” job differentiating growth and developing attractive markets for foreign investors.
Credit Suisse CEO says the UK will recover from Brexit
Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein said the UK would eventually recover from the challenges posed by its withdrawal from the European Union.
“I’m convinced that also the UK will do just fine over time,” he said. “In the short term, it (Brexit) is a challenge.”
Saudi’s Public Investment Fund Chief about investing in Tech, Pharma
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who heads Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, said the PIF was investing in a full spectrum of technology, early-stage autonomous driving, and pharmaceuticals but is concerned about the growing power of larger tech firms.
“We are worried not only from the valuation standpoint about how some of these technology companies are having bigger powers,” he said, “and a lot of the regulators in the world are beginning to be more concerned.”
Rumayyan also said he was increasingly cautious about the disconnect between “real economy and financial markets.”
Fundamentals favorable in 2021
“The fundamentals going into 2021 and beyond are pretty favorable for long-term investors,” BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink said. He also said $50 trillion needs to be put to work to get to net carbon zero.
Extended reality at FII
The Fourth Edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) will take place in five global hubs.
In a world-first, Richard Attias & Associates (RA&A) is using ground-breaking XR (extended reality) technology with a multiplex concept to make it appear as if key speakers are together in very dynamic 3D environments, even though they will be thousands of miles apart, dispersed among the central hub in Riyadh and in the FII satellite cities of New York, Paris, Beijing, and Mumbai.
The cameras and virtual sets at FII will be synchronized and rendered in real-time, thus offering a totally immersive virtual reality experience for the audience. It’s fitting that this cutting-edge technology will be used for the forward-thinking Future Investment Initiative, whose theme this year is “The Neo-Renaissance.”