On the west coast of Saudi Arabia, bordering the Red Sea, is Jeddah, the second largest city in the country. More than 3 million people make their home in Jeddah, and the area has become famous as both the economic and tourism capital of Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah also plays host to one of the most important annual economic forums in the Middle East - the Jeddah Economic Forum.
Read on to find out more about the Jeddah Economic Forum and the wider economy of Saudi Arabia.
Since its foundation as a Kingdom in 1932, Saudi Arabia has been an absolute monarchy ruled by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. As it the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil, petrochemicals play a key part in the economy of Saudi Arabia, as do plastics, metal goods, construction materials, and electrical appliances.
Government incentives are in place to provide long-term interest free loans, support and facilities, and the commercial ventures are encouraged within the country’s major chambers of commerce. Saudi Arabia joined the World Trade Organization in 2005 and has in recent years also sought to interest foreign investment.
Jeddah has long been a powerful part of the Saudi economy. The economy is less dependent on oil than in much of Saudi Arabia, and the area has a strong entrepreneurial culture. A 20 year Strategic Plan for the Municipality of Jeddah, published in 2009, sets out the city’s commitment to economic growth. It particularly examines strategies for challenging unemployment rates, ensuring more women participate in the workforce, and outlines the Municipality’s commitment to focus on growth sectors like tourism and information and communication technologies.
With its sandy beaches, the historic old city Al Balad and the famous shopping area of Tahlia Street, tourism plays a key part in the economic makeup of the city. Many Muslim pilgrims from around the world fly to Jeddah to start the important Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Jeddah Economic Forum
The Annual Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) examines the economy of the Middle East, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. First launched in 2009, the JEF has become the leading annual forum on economic and social issues in the Middle East.
Each year, the Jeddah Economic Forum centres its presentations on a specific theme. In the past these have included ‘Job Creation for Sustaining a Strong Economy’, ‘Economic Reform’, ‘Building Tomorrow's Economies Today’ and most recently, in the 2013 forum, ‘Housing the Growing Population’. Speakers examine the main issues surrounding the generation of employment opportunities, sustainable business environments, and healthy economic growth through examination of learning methodologies, research and reflection of business developments.
The JEF is attended by men and women working in both the Government and Private sectors who share an interest in the Middle East’s economic development. Over the years it has attracted politicians and entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, John Major, HRH Prince Charles, and Queen Rania of Jordan.
The next Jeddah Economic Forum is due to take place in Jeddah from 18 to 20 March 2014.
Ideally situated in the business district of Jeddah, the Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah is the perfect place to stay when attending the Jeddah Economic Forum. Our elegant hotel comprises stylish rooms and suites, contemporary meeting rooms, excellent business services, and fitness and leisure facilities. Our Jeddah hotel is located less than 20 kilometres from the airport, and close to the Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Center.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you have ever heard at a conference?