It has been a great pleasure to once again visit Riyadh to deepen the cooperation between the IMF and Saudi Arabia as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), especially in responding to the global series of shocks, including food insecurity.
I congratulated the authorities on Saudi Arabia’s strong economic performance and impressive progress in implementing their Vision 2030 reform agenda, notably the doubling of the share of women in the labor force in just four years. Maintaining the reform momentum to further diversify the economy will be pivotal for longer-term prosperity. This was an area of strong agreement echoed in my meetings with Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Central Bank Governor Fahad Al-Mubarak, Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Alibrahim, and Management of the Public Investment Fund. I also held inspiring discussions with impressive Saudi women who have played a leading role in reducing inequalities and supporting Saudi Arabia’s economic growth.
In all our discussions, I welcomed the critical role Saudi Arabia plays on the international level, and in particular its role in supporting countries in the region and vulnerable countries more broadly that have been impacted by multiple shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic and now Russia’s war in Ukraine. We also had productive discussions about the existential threat of climate change and the vital importance of an orderly energy transition.
I am also grateful for the Saudi hosts’ inviting me to participate in the annual meeting of GCC finance ministers and central bank governors. Discussions at today’s meeting were exceptionally constructive. We agreed on the need to continue dialogue on the ongoing economic reforms in the region and to enhance our coordination efforts to support countries in the region and tackle global crises.
As part of the GCC meeting, I also participated in a high-level panel on tackling food insecurity together with Saudi Finance Minister Al-Jadaan, Mauritania’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Promotion of Production Sectors Ousmane Kane, Executive Director of the World Food Program David Beasley, and Islamic Development Bank President Muhammad Al-Jasser. The event was co-hosted by Saudi Arabia, reflecting its leadership role in addressing this critical challenge. We underscored the increasing urgency for an effective and coordinated global response and additional financing to support low‑ and middle‑income countries facing food insecurity.
I am therefore grateful for the Arab Coordination Group’s recent announcement to provide an initial US$ 10 billion to alleviate the global food supply crisis and am extremely pleased that several GCC countries are planning to make further pledges soon.
For its part, the IMF has just launched a new food security window under our existing emergency financing programs to help provide additional funds to those countries most affected by the current food crisis. Discussions on global efforts to address food insecurity will be continued at our upcoming IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings on October 10 -16 in Washington, D.C.
Finally, my visit marked another important milestone in our partnership with the region. We are taking our cooperation to a new level by establishing an IMF regional office in Riyadh. It will spearhead engagement with regional institutions, strengthen relationships with country authorities, and help expand the IMF’s capacity development activities—which will make it one of the largest contributors globally. I would like to thank the government of Saudi Arabia for its generous commitment to investing in building capacity in countries across the region.
Kristalina Georgieva is the IMF Managing Director. The above statement was made at the end of her two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.