Future Investment Initiative

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Future Investment Initiative
FII logo
Organized byThe Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia
TypeInternational conference
LocationRiyadh, Saudi Arabia
Next eventOctober 23–25, 2018[needs update]

The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is an annual investment forum held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to discuss trends in the world economy and investment environment. It is hosted by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).

The first event was in October 2017 and featured the announcements of the launch of NEOM, a proposed $500bn independent economic zone in the northwest of Saudi Arabia.


The Future Investment Initiative was announced in September 2017 by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's main sovereign wealth fund, in the context of the Saudi Vision 2030 program of economic and social reform.[1][2]

The first Future Investment Initiative event took place in Riyadh from October 24 to October 26, 2017,[3] under the patronage of King Salman of Saudi Arabia.[1][2] The conference hosted 3,800 attendees from 90 countries, involving major investors, chief executives, public officials, and economists.[4][5] Notable participants included the managing director of the IMF Christine Lagarde, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and Japanese business magnate Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank.[6][7][5]

Themes discussed included artificial intelligence, big data, cryptocurrencies, and climate change.[8][9][10][11] In an address to the conference, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said Saudi Arabia was returning to a more moderate form of Islam “open to all religions and to the world”.[12]

The World Economic Forum, which organises the annual conference held in Davos, Switzerland, has objected to the use of "Davos" in such contexts for any event not organised by them.[13]


The Public Investment Fund announced several major plans at the conference, including its goal to increase its assets under management to $400 billion by 2020. The fund outlined how it would structure its investments in six areas: Saudi equity holdings, sector development, real estate and infrastructure, mega projects, international strategic investments, and a “diversified pool” across global asset classes.[14]

The Public Investment Fund also announced several major investments, including the finalisation of its participation in a $40 billion infrastructure fund set up with the US private equity firm Blackstone, and a memorandum of understanding to invest $1 billion in Virgin space companies.[15][16]

Among the projects announced at the conference was NEOM – a proposed $500bn economic zone covering 26,000 square kilometres in northwest Saudi Arabia, extending into Jordan and Egypt.[17][18] The project aims to attract investment in sectors including renewable energy, biotechnology, robotics and advanced manufacturing.[19]

Further ‘giga projects’ presented at the 2017 event included Qiddiya, a multi-billion dollar entertainment resort; and the Red Sea project, a planned luxury resort across 50 islands on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast.[20][21][22]

2018 conference[edit]

In May 2018 the Public Investment Fund announced plans for the second edition of the Future Investment Initiative, to be held from October 23 to 25, 2018.[4] In August 2018 a team of business leaders were announced as members of a new FII advisory board, including Saudi businesswoman Lubna Olayan, MasterCard CEO Ajaypal Singh Banga, and the journalist and entrepreneur Arianna Huffington.[23]

Following the killing[24] in Turkey of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, some speakers and sponsors who had planned to attend the event withdrew pending the outcome of investigations.[25][26] These included Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, the president of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim, and Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.[27][28][29]

Media outlets including The New York Times, the Financial Times, CNBC, Bloomberg, and CNN withdrew as partners.[30]

Google also issued a statement stating that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not be attending Future Investment Initiative Summit in Riyadh. Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said amid the concerns over Khashoggi disappearance, Uber would not be a part of the summit.[31][32]

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, The Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin[33] also withdrew from the conference.[34]


  1. ^ a b "PIF announces Future Investment Initiative". Saudi Gazette. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Saudi Arabia Launches Future Investment Initiative". Forbes Middle East. 18 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Saudi to launch Future Investment Initiative event". Arab News. 18 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Saudi Arabia's PIF forms FII advisory board of international executives". The National. 29 August 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b Gosden, Emily; Hipwell, Deirdre; Lea, Robert (24 October 2017). "Saudi Arabia: Oiling the wheels of economic change". The Times. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  6. ^ Lovelace, Jr., Berkeley (24 October 2017). "BlackRock CEO Fink says investors should expect just 4% returns over the next 10 years". CNBC. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  7. ^ Balakrishnan, Anita (25 October 2017). "SoftBank's Masayoshi Son aims to control 90% of the chip market". CNBC. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  8. ^ Clifford, Catherine (25 October 2017). "Billionaire CEO of SoftBank: Robots will have an IQ of 10,000 in 30 years". CNBC. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  9. ^ Reid, David (24 October 2017). "Mastercard's boss just told a Saudi audience that 'data is the new oil'". CNBC. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  10. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (26 October 2017). "People are 'underestimating' the 'great potential' of bitcoin, billionaire Peter Thiel says". CNBC. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  11. ^ "'We will be toasted, roasted and grilled': IMF chief sounds climate change warning". The Guardian. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  12. ^ Meredith, Sam (25 October 2017). "Saudi Arabia promises a return to 'moderate Islam'". CNBC. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  13. ^ Bosley, Catherine (22 October 2018). "WEF Condemns Use of 'Davos' Label One Day Before Saudi Summit". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  14. ^ Paul, Katie (25 October 2017). "Eyeing $400 billion, Saudi wealth fund aims to nearly double size by 2020". Reuters. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Saudi's PIF commits $20 bln to $40 billion fund with Blackstone". Reuters. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Saudi Arabia to invest $1bn in Virgin space companies". The Guardian. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  17. ^ Hipwell, Deirdre (25 October 2017). "Saudis to build £500bn city of the future in desert". The Times. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  18. ^ Al Omran, Ahmed; Kerr, Simon; Raval, Anjli (24 October 2017). "Saudis aim to diversify economy with new $500bn city". Financial Times. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  19. ^ Wachman, Richard (24 October 2017). "Robots to roam $500 billion Saudi city". Arab News. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  20. ^ "Saudi futuristic vision dazzles corporate honchos". Saudi Gazette. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  21. ^ "World-class entertainment park coming up in Al-Qiddiya". Saudi Gazette. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Saudi crown prince launches mega Red Sea tourism project". Arab News. 1 August 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  23. ^ Debusmann Jr., Bernd (30 August 2018). "Emaar's Mohamed Alabbar included on Saudi Future Investment Initiative advisory board". Arabian Business. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  24. ^ Associated Press (20 October 2018). "Saudi Arabia's account of Jamal Khashoggi's killing is widely denounced". Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  25. ^ David Fickling (October 16, 2018). "Just Skipping 'Davos in the Desert' Won't Cut It". Bloomberg News. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  26. ^ "Media companies and top executives drop out of Saudi event over missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi". CNBC. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  27. ^ Schwartz, Brian (11 October 2018). "Los Angeles Times owner drops out of Saudi Arabia investor conference after Washington Post columnist goes missing". CNBC. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  28. ^ Politi, James (12 October 2018). "World Bank president to skip Riyadh conference". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  29. ^ Maddaus, Gene (11 October 2018). "Viacom CEO Bob Bakish Bows Out of Saudi Conference Amid Media Exodus". Variety. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  30. ^ Gold, Hadas (12 October 2018). "Media sponsors drop out of Saudi conference after journalist goes missing". CNN. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  31. ^ "Google latest to withdraw from Saudi conference". Reuters. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  32. ^ "Google pulls out of Saudi business conference in wake of Khashoggi disappearance". Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  33. ^ Mnuchin, Steve. "Mnuchin tweet". Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  34. ^ "Executive exodus: Jamie Dimon and other top CEOs quit Saudi conference". CNN. Retrieved 15 October 2018.