“Davos in the Desert” arrives in Rio to search for opportunities between Brazil and Saudi Arabia

FII PRIORITY Summit features the theme “Invest with Dignity” and will gather President Lula, ministers, and business leaders from Arabia and the Americas

Rio de Janeiro: FII PRIORITY Summit begins this wednesday, 12.  (Lucas Amorim/Exame)

Rio de Janeiro: FII PRIORITY Summit begins this wednesday, 12. (Lucas Amorim/Exame)

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Publicado em 11 de junho de 2024 às 18h54.

Última atualização em 11 de junho de 2024 às 19h00.

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Eleven thousand kilometers separate the Saudi desert dunes from the sands of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro. However, between this wednesday and thursday, the two countries will be closer than ever. The famous Copacabana Palace will host the first Latin American edition of the FII PRIORITY Summit, an event organized by the Future Investment Initiative Institute, a non-profit entity of Saudi Arabia’s powerful Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has investments worth $925 billion.

In recent years, the business forum held in Riyadh has become known as the “Davos in the Desert”. More recently, it has expanded to cities like Miami and Hong Kong. Now, it’s Rio de Janeiro’s turn. The goal is to strengthen ties between the two countries and attract investments from Brazil and its neighbors to the Arab nation.

Saudi Arabia is investing heavily, both economically and politically, to establish itself as a new business hub in the Middle East, something similar to what Dubai and the United Arab Emirates have achieved in recent years. As the world’s largest oil producer, the nation is seeking business ventures to diversify its economic portfolio into other sectors the Brazil leads, like green energy, technology, and tourism. Additionally, it is seeking agreements in strategic sectors such as food, mining, and infrastructure.

From Lula to the princess

The event will feature a total of 150 speakers, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States and a leading figure of the country in the West. She is a cousin of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the heir responsible for the recent wave of openings in the country, which includes greater integration of women into the workforce and facilitating business and tourist visas for non-muslims.

The event will also include Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Al Saud, President of the Saudi Esports Federation, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and President of the FII Institute, Mike Pompeo, former US Secretary of State, Brazil’s Finance Minister Fernando Haddad, Rio’s Mayor Eduardo Paes, and former presidents Felipe Calderón (Mexico), Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia), Jorge Quiroga (Bolivia), and Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica).

Among the confirmed business leaders and investors are names like Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment, Baroness Ariane de Rothschild, CEO of Edmond de Rothschild Holding, Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman of S4 Capital Group, André Esteves, Chairman of BTG Pactual, Marcelo Claure, Founder and CEO of Claure Group, Bernard Mensah, International President of Bank of America, Aloizio Mercadante, President of BNDES, and Eduardo Bartolomeo, CEO of Vale.

The event takes place five months before Rio hosts the annual G20 summit, the group of the world’s wealthiest countries, further putting Brazil in the spotlight. The banner of sustainable development, focusing on the Global South, is a common agenda for both Brazilians and Saudis. The challenge for both sides is to demonstrate that investment opportunities outweigh geopolitical tensions, internal political challenges, and especially the high interest rates in the United States.

EXAME is a media partner of the FII Priority Summit and will broadcast the event’s opening, along with covering the main discussions.

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