Al-Ahsa Forum promises inclusive, bright future economy
The sixth annual Al-Ahsa Forum that took place on Wednesday and Thursday held talks on clean energy opportunities in the era of transformation and sustainability, prospects for investment and transformation in health care, investment and economy of the future, tourism, the impact of local content on food security, supply chains and SMEs.
Prince Saud bin Nayef, governor of the Eastern Province, and Prince Saud bin Talal, governor of Al-Ahsa, were in attendance.
Sponsored by Al-Ahsa Chamber and Saudi Aramco, this year’s edition brought in more guests with the live streaming option, allowing visitors to tune in from around the world.
Prince Saud bin Nayef reiterated how Al-Ahsa — and its locals — have made great strides through various successful projects and initiatives.
It has undoubtably established itself as a land of palm trees and of infinite opportunities and ample generosity, he said.
Several ministers, officials, experts, advisers, heads of companies, as well as local and international executives joined the forum’s latest session, that comes as part of the efforts to promote Saudi inclusive development, in line with Vision 2030.
The former president of Saudi Aramco, Khalid Al-Falih, who is now the minister of investment and was formerly the minister of energy, also spoke at the forum.
The events were live streamed on large screens at a separate space within the premises at the exhibition space, where different companies, including Saudi Aramco, had booths where people could stop, ask questions and interact.
The forum led by example. In addition to being wheelchair-accessible, it offered non-Arabic speakers audio devices to provide them with instant translation from Arabic to English.
There was also a dynamic sign language interpreter who signed all speeches in real time, as shown in a small box on the main screen.
Aramco’s CEO and president, Amin Al-Nasser, announced a new center that will cater to those with disabilities. The center is expected to cover an area of about 60,000 square meters and will reside in the heart of Saudi Aramco’s Mubarraz complex.
Phase one should be expected to be complete by 2025 and the second phase soon after. Each phase aims to accommodate 330 male and female students and should provide life-changing support for more than 660 beneficiaries.
Al-Nasser said: “Saudi Aramco seeks to focus on the capabilities of our sons and daughters with special needs and to rehabilitate, train and provide them with skills that enable them to enter the labor market and live a decent life.”
He added: “The observer of the recent transformations that Al-Ahsa is witnessing realizes that it is a land of promising investment opportunities, with an abundant share of conventional and unconventional oil and gas, an agricultural sector rich in its wealth, and a rich heritage and tourism sector that bodes well, in addition to its strategic location and the presence of Al-Uqair port, which made Al-Ahsa a center important for trade exchange.”
Al-Nasser stressed the special relationship that binds Saudi Aramco to Al-Ahsa since its inception, as it is one of the most important and largest business areas of the company.
“Al-Ahsa embraces huge reservoirs of unconventional gas, and successive and promising discoveries of shale gas, and we are currently working on developing the Al-Jafurah field, which is likely to start production in 2025. It is also expected that the total capital and operational investments of the Al-
Jafurah project will reach more than $100 billion over the next 20 years,” he said.
Al-Nasser emphasized Saudi Aramco’s commitment to the empowerment and advancement of women, one of the Vision 2030 goals.
He reminded attendees that three years ago, his company established the Aramco Driving School for Women in Al-Ahsa, at which more than 29,000 women have been trained to drive thus far, allowing an army of women to become more independent.
Both Saudi Aramco, and the Kingdom at large, are aiming to diversify the local economy and to ensure the steady and sustainable growth of Al-Ahsa — and the whole country — remains at the forefront.
Day one of the forum provided guests with insights from distinguished speakers and several panel discussions.
Day two of the forum covered the future of Al-Ahsa in light of Vision 2030 and touch upon tourism and the impact of local content strategy on food security and strengthening the supply chains.
During his talk, Al-Nasser also mentioned how Aramco is diligently working to establish a dedicated center for the production of dates, famous in Al-Ahsa — and a stone’s throw from the soon-to-end seasonal Dates Marketing Festival — serving more than 200 beneficiaries and their families locally.
This is in addition to training and developing local farmers which helps establish local pride, promote sustainability and establish Al-Ahsa as a worthy destination for tourists and locals alike.
Saudi Aramco, the main sponsor for the event, is the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals company which has seamlessly transitioned into diversifying its revenue streams in the last decades.