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NEW YORK CITY: Saudi Arabia leads the world in optimism, according to a new report, with Saudis not only confident in the direction of their own lives, but also in the Kingdom and indeed the world.

And the FII Priority event in New York heard from Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Minister of Investment, who said the optimism was reflected in continued investment in the Kingdom.

Released at a forum in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, the “Future Investment Initiative Priority” report polled 130,000 people from 13 countries on the things that matter most to them.

Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute, told Arab News that he was not surprised that the Middle East and the East of the world had become more pessimistic than the West.

“You (the Middle East) have leaders with a vision. I don’t know if it’s a longer term vision, but they have a vision. And they expressed this vision in Europe.

He said West didn’t have such an obvious vision. “I think the vision is not clearly expressed, and people are a bit lost. And that’s why we saw movements like the yellow vest in France. Lots of protests in Spain, lots of protests in America.

“I think these countries, especially the United States, still have a lot of social crises to resolve.”

The FII Priority report asked if people thought their lives were going in the right direction – most people around the world said they were.

But as the issue widened, people in countries like the UK, US and France became more skeptical about the state of their country and the world at large.

“I am not surprised to see that the West is pessimistic. The world is pessimistic because we are definitely facing an economic crisis,” Attias added.

And he said, “A lot of people who have benefited the most from globalization are people from the East. Many jobs have been created in the East, many jobs have been created in the Middle East.

And Attias said the West was experiencing an “identity crisis,” which did not exist in the East.

The report found that Saudis led the way in feeling positive about their country, only being beaten in their optimism for the state of the world – coming in third behind China and India.

The optimistic attitude of the Saudis did not stop there. When asked if they thought their country would be better in the future – 61% of confident people in the Kingdom said yes – just behind 80% in China.

In France, 83% answered no, followed by 78% in Italy and 75% in Germany.

The biggest concerns of respondents around the world were all related to the cost of living crisis, with food security and unemployment occupying most people’s minds.

Terrorism was low on most people’s list of concerns, looking closer to home.

The survey focused on three themes: the social crisis, the environmental crisis and what they called the identity crisis (difficulties linked to the integration of migrants and the loss of traditional values).

For the most part, the report found a balance between concerns about people’s personal lives and growing social inequalities – as did environmental concerns.

Despite the politicization of migration in many countries during election campaigns such as Brexit and the US and French presidential elections, the survey found that for most people it was not a significant issue at all.

The United States voiced 17% of their concerns about migration, while 12% of Saudis placed it at the top of their list, with Morocco being the lowest with just 5% of recipients saying they were most concerned about migrants. more.

Attias said he thought the politicians’ focus on immigration showed a divisiveness with the public they were meant to represent.

“That’s why there’s a disconnect between what leaders think, or what leaders prioritize, and what people want and consider as other priorities,” he explained.

He said the disconnect revealed the need for leaders – political and business – to reconnect with the people.

The survey report found that 70% of people in high-income countries said they did not think life would improve in their country, while 70% of people in the East and Middle East were optimistic.

There is a social identity crisis, Attias said, especially with a new phenomenon that was revealed by the report which showed that 50% of respondents wanted to quit their job within the next 12 months.

“We call it the big resignation. I think it will be huge.

He said the pandemic had caused people to reassess their lives, especially at work where they felt there was no longer any opportunity for advancement or earning more money.

Work, he said, for Westerners at least, had become precisely that – work.

He said 54% of people in the West were unable to save for the future, while 66% were working to have a decent life.

But in Saudi Arabia, 35% of respondents saw work as a means to fulfillment.

“We have to listen to people, whether they are right or wrong. It’s not for me to judge but we have to listen to people.

He said people were increasingly starting to feel they weren’t being heard by politicians and CEOs.

“I think we need to discuss a call to action – it’s a wake-up call. A lot of people we spoke to were talking about social revolution,” he said.

The report’s findings appear to push power eastward, with citizens in the Middle East expressing more faith in their country than in the west.

The concept that non-Western countries were somehow playing second fiddle is certainly not the perception of those who live there.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, President of the FII Institute and Governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, said: “Some of the answers to the questions were surprising. But most of the answers were what we expected.

Rumayyan said that since the West has been working to demonize fossil fuels, there has actually been an increase in production, but also the cost of living has gone up – food is more expensive, he said. -he says.

Adding: “It all went the wrong way.”

Meanwhile, he said the IMF had played a major role in boosting the Saudi economy as the Kingdom continued to invest both domestically and internationally.

There’s a definite vibrancy to the Gulf – for those who live there, it’s easy not to notice the food poverty or the cost of living crisis.

Sure, prices have gone up, but with wages for many in the region being significantly higher than in the west, life is generally a bit easier.

And the economy’s continued activity – largely for the better – is primarily the result of Vision projects in the Gulf region fueling growth – and therefore positivity.


He said the Kingdom was “emerging as a place where climate challenges are being tackled at scale and at the right pace with very pragmatic policies and systems in place.”

He added that they were transforming the Saudi economy, bringing in new sectors that have “tremendous growth potential”, which attracted a lot of international and domestic capital.

And he said the push has brought together partnerships “that are really shaping, not just the future of Saudi Arabia, but I believe the region.”

He said then that the pandemic had caused one. a more nationalistic view of many countries around the world, Saudi Arabia was actually doing the opposite and looking to outside investment that would not only benefit the Kingdom, but the world as well.

“We’re aligning it all together and the Kingdom has all the catalysts together.”

And the Minister added: “The Kingdom has some of the best macroeconomic indicators, a very stable economy, a very strong fiscal and monetary position, low cost locations, especially with recent trends globally and domestically. energetic availability, great talent.

And he played in front of the younger section of the Saudi community that joined the economy.

He said young men and women are “joining our workforce and joining us as entrepreneurs, and makes them our best weapon, our best attraction to bring pastors into the Kingdom.”

And he ended by saying, “My message to investors around the world is that you don’t know what you’re missing out on until you come to Saudi Arabia.”

And he said investors would find it “the best location to address a market rich in high-growth, quality investment, which is very complex”.

He said the Kingdom’s future investments had become much more diversified than oil and gas – with markets for health, biotech, education, logistics.

And in a nod to the confidence the Saudis have shown in the future of their country, he added: “We’re really digging deep, we’re not just focusing on the big anchor investors, who are very important, but we dig deep into the ecosystem. of the nation, harvesting and exploiting our most important resource which is our young, talented, unlimited and limitless people.

James T. Quintero