The White House may be at odds with Saudi Arabia, but Americans CEOs are signaling that things are business as usual. Top executives from JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, as well as CEOs from Blackstone and Moelis (and even Bridgewater's Ray Dalio), are gathering for the Future Investment Initiative - popularly known as "Davos in the Desert." The annual summit, which runs from Tuesday to Thursday, seeks to project the Kingdom as a dynamic investment destination, and draws 6,000 people and 500 speakers to Riyadh.
Tapping oil wealth: With much of the world concerned about the risks of inflation and recession, Saudi Arabia is standing out as a place that should warrant some extra attention. It's swimming in its first crude boom in over a decade, and is even predicted to record GDP growth of over 8% this year as many developed economies struggle to stay positive.
"The savvy of Wall Street know their history well and know the difference between the short-term and political versus the long-term and strategic," said Talal Malik, CEO of Alpha1Strategy. "With this kind of liquidity, it makes sense for U.S. investment firms to ramp up their attendance."
Case in point: JPMorgan plans to expand its 100-strong team in the country with 20 new employees by the end of 2022, which more than doubles its size from 2016. Other U.S. financial firms are also setting up operations there, like Franklin Templeton, as the the Kingdom raises pressure on multinationals to relocate their Middle East hubs to Saudi Arabia.