Leading players from global industry experts were in Riyadh recently to take part in a major forum hosted by Bloomberg that put spotlight on the challenges and opportunities presented by the kingdom’s transformative reforms and the role of technology in shaping its future.
The forum held under the topic ‘Transformation in Saudi Arabia: infrastructure and Transport’ took place at the Four Seasons Resort Riyadh last week. 
The event brought together a diverse group of industry experts who held a successful discussion on the future of Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion five-year infrastructure pipeline and its impact on the banking sector, said the statement from Bloomberg. 
The high-profile speakers included Edmond Christou, Research Analyst – GCC Financials, Bloomberg Intelligence; Matthew Martin, Banking and Finance Reporter, Bloomberg News; Sonia Baldeira, Senior Analyst: Infrastructure & Building, Bloomberg Intelligence; Salih Yilmaz, CFA, Senior Oil Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence; Micheal Dean, Senior Research Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence; Fathi Al Tarouti, Head of Investments and Deputy Treasurer Bank Albilad; Abdulelah bin Abdulaziz Alsheikh, Country Director, Jacobs; Andre Olivenca, Partner, EY Middle East; Haytham Honjol, Head of Strategy & Initiatives at CEER; Fabrice Susini, CEO of Real Estate Refinance Company and Roland Bellegarde, Senior Advisor at Tadawul Group.
The event featured several interesting panels including discussions on the viability of battery-electric-vehicles as a solution to greener transportation, the role of capital markets in revitalizing the Saudi banking sector, alternative solutions to the current infrastructure challenges, and the need for greater investment in charging infrastructure and green electricity, it stated.
Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s banking sector, Christou said: "Saudi banking sector is thriving and has been experiencing remarkable growth in the mortgage market, with an impressive average annual increase of about 40% since 2019."
"This growth is a testament to the country's strong economy and the dedication of its banking sector to providing the necessary resources to support it," he noted.
"While the rising interest-rate environment presents some challenges, the Saudi banking sector has been working diligently to address them," he pointed out. 
"Structural changes in the economy, including decreased oil liquidity and changing depositor behavior, have motivated the sector to adopt more sustainable, long-term funding sourcesm," stated the industry expert.
"Additionally, Saudi banks have been successful in raising funds through debt issuance, surpassing their GCC peers last year, with the issuance of $10 billion in debt. This achievement demonstrates the banking sector's commitment to adapting and evolving to meet the country's needs," he added.
On the infrastructure challenges in the context of global auto demand, Dean said: "Policy support remains strong in major automotive markets, while more compelling Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) models are entering the market, and consumer interest is increasing.'
"However, in this current climate, BEV sticker prices remain high, material costs are surging, supply chains are stretched, and it is clear much more investment is needed in charging infrastructure and green electricity," he noted. 
"Looking through the lens of both short- and long-term outlooks and from an automaker’s perspective, it raises an important question about whether or not BEVs are the only solution or if alternatives exist, and if so who can challenge Tesla in the race for BEV dominance and how can legacy automakers catch up in terms of integrated software and hardware?," explained Dean.
"Our analysis shows that Volkswagen is the only real contender to take Telsa’s enviable BEV global crown in the medium term. BYD in China ranks third followed by a glut of legacy automakers languishing around the one million BEV sales mark by mid-decade and our research indicates it is unlikely we will see a Japanese or incumbent US challenger until later this decade," he added.-TradeArabia News Service