Saudi tourism minister discusses benefit of unified tourist visa for GCC nations at Qatar meeting

Saudi tourism minister discusses benefit of unified tourist visa for GCC nations at Qatar meeting
Saudi tourism minister discusses benefit of unified tourist visa for GCC nations at Qatar meeting

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Innovation is a priority for HSBC Saudi Arabia as it aims to enhance its offerings, according to the bank’s CEO.

Faris Al-Ghannam, CEO and board member of HSBC Saudi Arabia, provided a comprehensive overview of the financial institution’s prospective plans, along with the Kingdom’s economic landscape and the investment opportunities it presents. 

In an interview with Arab News, on the sidelines of the third Saudi Capital Market Forum held in Riyadh, Al-Ghannam shared insights on the bank’s endeavors, saying: “Innovation is definitely a priority for us, especially given our horizon and the market. And we will always look at adding to what we have done so far.”

The top executive said his bank aims to explore different areas in the Saudi market. He laid emphasis on focusing on debt capital market, the Kingdom’s IPO market and expressed resolved to take “technology to the next level and activate the derivates and the future markets.”

According to the CEO, these areas are a priority for HSBC to contribute to in the immediate future.

Highlighting Saudi Arabia’s exceptional performance on the global stage, he said: “The Kingdom, in the year 2023, was the best-performing or one of the best-performing large economies in the world, with nearly 8 percent growth in GDP,” stressing the significance of this achievement beyond the confines of the energy sector.

Al-Ghannam underlined the surge in investment flows into the Kingdom over the past three years and said: “The investment that flows into the Kingdom has seen more than 70 percent growth over the last three years.”

Amid global economic headwinds, he reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s robust position as a standout performer in absolute and relative terms. He highlighted the Kingdom’s ability to weather economic uncertainties, attributing its resilience to a confluence of factors, including prudent financial policies and strategic investments. 

In the realm of global investments, Al-Ghannam said: “That’s where the opportunity exists in Saudi (Arabia) because that segment of the economy is where most of the opportunities exist, and that segment of the economy is where growth can be sustained, and diversification can be achieved in the long term.” 

In tandem with the Kingdom’s economic ascendancy, Al-Ghannam lauded HSBC’s commitment to the Saudi Capital Market Forum, underscoring the bank’s role as a key partner in facilitating meaningful dialogue and fostering collaboration within the financial ecosystem. 

Reflecting on the forum’s evolution, the top banker expressed satisfaction with its trajectory, noting a marked increase in the participation of international investors and corporates. 

“We were very proud to be a partner from the inception of this conference,” the CEO remarked, highlighting HSBC’s multifaceted support in enhancing the forum’s prominence and efficacy over the years.

Transitioning to the subject of capital expenditure initiatives, Al-Ghannam explained Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which entails a substantial CapEx program spanning several billion dollars over the next six to seven years. 

He underscored the instrumental role of capital sectors in facilitating these initiatives, particularly in deepening the debt capital markets to enable financing for transformative projects. 

“In order to deliver that program, you need to tap all financing and investment pools,” Al-Ghannam affirmed, emphasizing the indispensable role of capital markets in driving sustainable economic development.

The CEO emphasized that from the inception of the derivatives and futures markets to the launch of the first Saudi exchange-traded funds in Asia, HSBC has remained at the vanguard of financial innovation, catalyzing growth and diversification within the Saudi financial ecosystem. 

Transitioning to the burgeoning domain of environmental, social, and governance initiatives, Al-Ghannam explained HSBC’s pivotal role in fostering sustainable finance and ESG integration within the Saudi market. 

He highlighted the bank’s proactive efforts in assisting Saudi companies in developing their ESG frameworks and facilitating green issuances, thus aligning with the broader objectives of Vision 2030 and the Saudi Green Initiative. 

“For us globally, ESG and transition is one of our key focus areas,” Al-Ghannam affirmed, echoing HSBC’s steadfast commitment to advancing sustainable finance agendas in close collaboration with key stakeholders.

Al-Ghannam concluded on an optimistic note, envisioning a future characterized by accelerated progress in ESG initiatives and sustainable finance agendas in Saudi Arabia and on the global stage. 

“We believe the coming years for the Kingdom, but beyond also for the global markets, will see acceleration in the ESG agenda,” Al-Ghannam remarked, expressing confidence in the transformative power of sustainable finance to drive inclusive growth and prosperity.

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