...While the forum's theme of "The US and Saudi Arabia: A New Economic Order" was elaborated through a variety of lenses and business perspectives, the subtext of each panel's presentations was the recent global financial crisis and how the messages of that catastrophe have served to catalyze the need for increased communication and cooperation.
The morning panels glittered with heads of ministries and international corporations. Among the speakers on a variety of topics that included "Global Energy Interdependence, Global Responsibilities" and "Expanding US-Saudi Trade in a Competitive World" were Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi, Capital Market Authority Chairman Abdul Rahman Al-Tuwaijri, former US Secretary of Commerce William Daley, Morgan Stanley's Richard Debs, J.P. Morgan Chase's Sir Andrew Crockett, GE's Ferdinando Beccalli, Chevron's John S. Watson and Acconia Energy's Peter DePrey.Saudi-style "progress"; Saudi-style "peace."
Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Zainal Alireza, CEO of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce Afana Al-Shuaiby, James Albaugh of Boeing and US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke spoke of the long relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia and how these two powerful and influential countries must partner even more extensively to strengthen the global economy.
The same underlying themes were expressed by each speaker: The need to diversify, the need to embrace the concepts of sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, the need for a firm stance against protectionism, and the recognition that the private sector is a vital part of the world economy - a rising tide that will lift all boats.
While they all recognized that challenges still exist that must be faced and overcome, including the still-fragile global economic recovery, they clearly felt that this forum truly marks a new chapter in US-Saudi Arabian friendship and a newly strengthened resolve to work together for prosperity and peace.