Experts: Saudi Arabia Leads the Region in Growth and Economic Prospects

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November 2012

SABB hosted an event featuring renowned economists at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh. The event introduced to the audience Simon Williams, Chief Economist for HSBC Middle East, and David Bloom, Global Head of Foreign Exchange Strategy at HSBC – both of whom were in Riyadh on an ‘Annual Economist Roadshow’. The regional tour is organized by HSBC and seeks to deliver the latest commentary on current economic and business events.The well-attended event saw significant participation levels by business and financial professionals at major firms and organizations in the private sector and the public sector who listened to latest trends and developments in economic thought and forecasting.

Mr Williams went over a number of key observations when it came to his area of specialized coverage, which are the economies of the Middle East and North Africa. He stressed that even though political turbulences are not over, signs of normalization are visible in North Africa couples with strong economic growth indicators in the Gulf. The recent pick-up in oil prices should leave the Saudi government with double-digit budget surplus over the 2012-2013 despite marked gains in expenditure.

During his speech, Mr Williams noted that political stabilization steps in the region and high oil prices have both contributed to speeding the pace of progress for the short term. Stimulus policies complemented by higher oil output volumes, large surpluses and reserve accumulation offers all parties –including investors- a strong dose of confidence. On the long-term, Mr Williams stressed the need to increase productivity levels by elevating support for education and enhancing public support for private sector innovation and overall participation level in the national economy.

The event also witnessed valuable insights by David Bloom on the global currency exchange markets. He offered the audience a clear view of international dynamics affecting the new strategies in dealing with currencies. Managing currency exchange risk and investment approaches to widely-traded currencies have been radically altered due to recent economic slowdown among industrialized nations. Mr Bloom stressed that the greater levels of ambiguity and lack of clarity should not be ignored as new linkage and relationships are formed rapidly with a real impact on global rate fluctuations.