The Future Minerals Summit
Comment of the Day

January 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Future Minerals Summit

Eoin Treacy's view

It was a pleasure to visit Saudi Arabia for the first, of what I believe will be many occasions, this week. I’d like to express my thanks to the government for their hospitality.

I feel like I am a well-travelled individual. I’ve lived in a half a dozen countries, visited many more and travelled to the far reaches of the world in search of the best diving destinations. It’s not often I have my preconceptions confounded. That’s what happened in Riyadh this week.

I had not expected to see so many young people given responsibility in organizing a globally significant event. I also had not expected to see so many young women in positions of responsibility. I had not expected to see women working in shopping malls either. On Friday night, the highway was jammed at 1am on the way to airport.

Many of the young people I spoke with were articulate, and enthusiastic about the future. They had been educated at universities both at home and abroad. Saudi Arabia is a conservative country, but the young generation are bursting with the enthusiasm and ambition of a population who sees the potential to achieve a better life. I was left with a feeling of optimism about the country and its prospects.

David often spoke of his first trips to Singapore where the young women were given responsibility, were forthright in their opinions and were power dressers. History does not repeat itself. Saudi Arabia is already a wealthy country but the reformation of civil society is not a fantasy. It was absolutely refreshing.

Many countries have large young populations. That creates both opportunities and challenges. The great benefit of the demographic dividend is you get the creative vigour of youth that creates value and growth. The challenge is doing whatever is necessary to capture the productive capacity of each individual to maximise the long-term benefits to the economy. To enact the reforms necessary to achieve those goals takes a great deal of courage. That’s what the 2030 vision of development is about. It's a leap of faith.  

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