Governor Talk - Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia’s Policy Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

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Moderator

Jihad Azour

Director Middle East and Central Asia Department, IMF

 

Jihad Azour is the Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund where he oversees the Fund’s work in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Caucasus.

Mr. Azour served as Lebanon’s Finance Minister in 2005-08, during which time he coordinated the implementation of important reforms, including modernizing the country’s tax and customs systems. Before and since his time as finance minister, he held a wide range of positions in the private sector, including McKinsey and Booz and Co. where he was a Vice-President and Senior Executive Advisor. Prior to joining the IMF in March 2017, he was a Managing Partner at investment firm Inventis Partners.

Mr. Azour holds a PhD in International Finance and a post-graduate degree in International Economics and Finance, both from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. He also did research on emerging economies and their integration into the global economy as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard. Mr. Azour has published several books and articles on economic and financial issues and taught extensively.

Speakers

Fahad Almubarak

Governor of the Saudi Central Bank

 

Fahad Almubarak is appointed as Saudi Central Bank Governor (previously known as Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency - SAMA) on January 2021. He was also a State Minister and Member of Council of Ministers since December 2018 till January 2021. Dr. Almubarak was also the Saudi G20 Sherpa from September 2018 till March 2021.

He was the Secretary-General of G20 Saudi Secretariat from August 2017 to July 2019. He also served as an Advisor to the Saudi Royal Court for two years (June 2017-December 2018).

Before joining the Royal Court, he was a Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), Chairman of Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), Member of the Shoura Council and was Chairman and Managing Director of Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia.

Almubarak started his career as Assistant Professor at King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals. He worked in executive management positions providing investment management and corporate finance advisory services during most of his career. Almubarak served on many private and public companies' board of directors in several industries.

Almubarak received his PhD in Business Administration, master’s in business administration and Accountancy and Taxation from the University of Houston, USA, in addition to master’s in engineering management and Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from SMU University, Dallas, USA.

Report

Key Points:

  • Focus. The COVID-19 crisis has had far reaching effects on health, social, and economic stability. In response, the G20 put in place a new agenda to combat the pandemic. Leaders decided on several key actions: injecting unprecedented stimulus, supporting research development and vaccine distribution, and launching a debt relief initiative. The Talk focused on key achievements by the G20; the experience of Saudi Arabia; and key priorities.
  • Conclusion. The G20’s focus on restoring growth, through cooperation, and shaping more resilient, sustainable, inclusive growth has been critical. For Saudi Arabia, strict measures (lockdowns and other social restrictions) and making vaccines available to everyone living in Saudi Arabia, have been key in minimizing the spread of the virus. Saudi Arabia will focus on projects aimed at making the country more attractive for business and tourism.

Quotes:

“We made vaccines available to all those who live in Saudi Arabia, whether they are Saudis, non-Saudis, or illegal immigrants. When it comes to health, there is no difference.” Fahad Almubarak

“Even though we are sacrificing a little bit in the production [of oil], achieving a stable oil price is good for Saudi Arabia, for producers, consumers, and for the region”. Fahad Almubarak

[Saudi Arabia] had to deal with the global crisis, but also with the crisis that hit Saudi. A double whammy, the shock from COVID-19, as well as the volatility in oil prices that has led to a drop in oil revenues.” Jihad Azour

Contributor: Rasheeda Smith Yee

Photos