Transforming the Arab world through unique insights from business and political leaders in KAEC

Today the Cliquesters are reporting (almost) live from the TopCEO Conference in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. It's the team's first time in the Kingdom, and where better to start than the city known inspiring David Foster Wallace's A Hologram for the King.

Although we were in town to discuss CPaaS, we spent much of the event listening; learning about a region in the throes of a massive economic transition. The event was quite a success – awarding the region's Top 100 Public Company CEOs with the coveted TopCEO award. A great thanks to Mediaquest and KAEC for the invitation.

The panels hosted over the two-day conference were chock full of leaders from business and government throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

These are a few of our favorite topics

Fahd Al-Rasheed, CEO of KAEC, offered the impassioned plea that foreign investors and companies consider Saudi Arabia as an open place to do business and as a hub for the rest of the GCC. He also noted that the Saudi Arabia's especially young population (50% under 25 years old) was the most ambitious in the world.

Justine Cassell, Associate Dean at Carnagie Mellon University, introduced the audience to SARA, and described a future in which humans and robots work together - each doing the things 'they do best' in an effort to create a more productive society.

Nasser Saidi, the Lebanese Politician and U Chicago Economist, took us on a tour of the GCC of the future: a region which has adapted to a 'New Oil Normal' by embracing new economic development models and deep structural reforms. He noted that Saudi Arabia's National Transformation plan would be a key indicator for success in the region.

Lawrence Morgan, CEO of Nest, discussed the 'Broken Jobs Machine' and explained how the country of Bahrain is looking to Nest to enable the next generation of entrepreneurs. He posited that the region's only chance at kindling the entrepreneurial spark is sensible regulation, connectivity, and openness to the outside world.

Abhishek Sharma, CEO of Foundation Holdings, touched on the importance of a focus on the healthcare and education sectors. Not only could they be huge growth drivers for the GCC, but their optimization also offers the population the opportunity to lead more fulfilling lives. He also noted that the types of jobs created within these industries will accelerate the positive regional trend of women entering the workforce.

Our #1 takeaway was being impressed with how the region is preparing to take on the challenge of adding 100mm jobs by 2030. The especially young population and the addition of women into the workforce offers some unique challenges to the both businesses and governments of the region.

Not only do leaders need to think big, and think open, but they need to do this against a complex cultural backdrop. The region is tasked with building its own future, rather than just importing plans that have sparked success in both the Far East and the West.

To that end, Clique has partnered with key stakeholders in development of a scalable communications platform for the region. We look forward to helping the region reach its goals and enable its people to communicate seamlessly.

See you at TopCEO 2018!