They will explain a range of new initiatives in oil and gas, banking and finance, minerals, power and water, petrochemicals, human resource development, telecommunications and insurance. They form the most thorough-going process of economic reform in the kingdom’s recent history and complement political reforms including local elections due next year.

The keynote address will be delivered by Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki al-Abdullah Alsaud, the governor and chairman of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia). The agency has accelerated the pace of inward investment in the kingdom and plays a key role in promoting trade and investment in and with Saudi Arabia.

Deputy Commerce Minster Fawaz al-Alamy will report on the latest developments in Saudi Arabia’s plans to accede to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The kingdom has announced it intends to join the trade body in early 2004.

Khalid al-Falih, gas ventures development and co-ordination vice president at Saudi Aramco, will explain why Saudi Arabia remains the premier base for energy industries. Al-Falih is a key figure in the kingdom’s unfolding gas initiative. Earlier in November, Shell, Total and Saudi Aramco signed a breakthrough agreement for gas exploration and development work.

Deputy governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama) Jammaz al-Suhaimi will explain the implications of Saudi Arabia’s new capital markets law and the establishment of the Saudi Arabian Securities & Exchange Commission (SASEC). The capital markets law, which becomes fully active in February 2004, is the most far-reaching change in Saudi Arabia’s banking and finance industry, comfortably the largest in the region, for a generation.

Plans for developing minerals will be outlined by Abdallah E Dabbagh, president and chief executive officer of Saudi mining firm Ma’aden, and Sultan Shawli, acting deputy minerals resources minister. Saudi Arabia is in the process of opening up its minerals industry to local and foreign private investment.

Abdullah S al-Marei, president and chief executive office of Marafiq, a utilities company developing power and water capacity for the giant industrial cities of Jubail and Yanbu, will describe the new structure of the kingdom’s power generation, transmission and distribution system. Saudi Arabia plans in 2004 to award the first licence to develop an independent power and water company.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) is the world’s fourth largest polyolefin manufacturer and plans in due course to be a leader of the industry. Future plans will be described by Abdullah Nojaidi, Sabic vice president. In November, Sabic chief executive Mohamed al-Mady told MEED it plans to build two new crackers each with capacity of more than 1 million tonnes a year.

Ways of promoting employment for Saudi Arabians will be discussed by Khalid al-Modiny, president of the Saudi British Electronics Institute and the Saudi Development & Training Company. Chairman of the Advanced Electronics Company (AEC) of Riyadh Abdulaziz al-Sugair will explain how his company has successfully achieved Saudiisation goals.

The kingdom’s industrial strategy will be defined by Saleh al-Husseini, deputy industry minister. Al-Husseini is a key figure in developing Sabic, establishing anti-dumping laws and laying the foundations for the future development of manufacturing.

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to regulate the insurance sector for the first time. Ali Subaihim, director of sales and marketing at the National Company for Co-operative Insurance (NCCI), the sole locally-registered insurance company will deliver an address about the new insurance law and its possible impact on the structure of the industry in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has restructured and privatised its telecommunications sector. Karim Sabbagh, vice president of Booz Allen & Hamilton and an expert on Saudi telecommunications, will report on the next stage of the modernisation of the industry including plans to liberalise GSM licences, fixed lines and data transmission.

How to set up a successful joint venture will be described by John Xefos, managing partner at Baker & McKenzie. Xefos has worked in the kingdom for more than 20 years and has provided advice about most of the major projects in Saudi Arabia.

David Wilson, director of personnel at Synthomer, and Michael Porter of Swicorp, will explain from a non-Saudi view how to set up a joint venture. Edmund O’Sullivan, MEED Editorial Director, will report on the opportunities of establishing a base for exports to Iraq in Saudi Arabia.

Economic trends and prospects in the kingdom will be described by Dr Khan H Zahid, chief economist and vice president at Riyad Bank.

The UK government will be represented by Mike O’Brien, minister of state for trade and investment. He will deliver an address to the conference. Chairman of the first day is Sir David Gore-Booth, special adviser to the chairman of HSBC Holdings and former UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The second day will be chaired by Sir Alan Munro, also a former ambassador to the kingdom.

For further information contact: Claire Tulloch, MEED Conference Director. Tel: 0207 505 6009. Email: Claire.Tulloch@meed.com.