WEF Special Meeting Concludes In Riyadh With World Leaders Calling For Clear, Irreversible Path To Peace And Prosperity As Top Global Priority


By Ron Chen, Bureau Chief, Asia

Riyadh hosted more than 1,000 global leaders for the two-day World Economic Forum (WEF) Special Meeting in Riyadh, where leading political, economics, energy and technology figures called for clear pathways to stability, prosperity and inclusive growth opportunities in the face of rising cross-border challenges.

The more than 1,000 participants in for the WEF Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development made it the highest-ever number of registrations for a WEF event hosted outside of its Annual Meeting venue in Davos Klosters, Switzerland.

The Special Meeting set the stage for the launch of several initiatives in the fields of healthcare, artificial intelligence, space and sustainability. On the final day of the meeting, chief executive officer of Moderna, StéphaneBancel, said the American pharmaceutical company is working to have the first product for cancer on the healthcare market, potentially as early as 2025.

On the first day of the meeting, the Saudi Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to ensure equitable access to healthcare services for all, and to deliver more vaccines against polio, measles, and other vital health services to millions of children worldwide. It was one of several agreements signed by the Foundation with the Kingdom to improve global health systems and access.

During the final plenary session, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning His Excellency Faisal Alibrahim announced that the Kingdom joined the AI GovernanceAlliance, and will co-launch the ‘Inclusive AI Initiative for Growth and Development’, to develop solutions for AI access and adoption.

The Saudi Space Agency also announced that it will launch the Center for Space Futures in the Kingdom later this year, in collaboration with WEF. The Center willserve as a platform for public-private dialoguesand foster the growth of the global space economy.

A Saudi Arabia-led Sustainability Champions Network was also launched on the sidelines of the Special Meeting to accelerate Saudi’s private sector decarbonization efforts.

Saudi Arabia also announced an extension to its collaboration with WEF’s innovation platform UpLink, with two new initiatives that focus on developing solutions to reducing emissions through the circular carbon economy and regenerating the world’s oceans through blue economy innovations.

WEF President Børge Brende hailed the Special Meeting in Riyadh a consequential gathering that drew the attendance of key global leaders including the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

Leading philanthropist Bill Gates joined a session on “Bridging the Health Gap”, alongsiide Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesusand Minister of Health, Ministry of Health of Saudi ArabiaFahad bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel, .

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