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How Saudi Arabia Is Building Its $2 Trillion Fund

Hello asset managers, welcome to Riyadh.

Hello asset managers, welcome to Riyadh.

Photographer: Ali Al Mubarak/Getty Images
Updated on

Saudi Arabia is stepping up plans to turn its sovereign wealth fund into a global giant. The Public Investment Fund is central to the government’s effort to diversify the economy away from oil, under a plan known as Vision 2030. The fund, which plans to control more than $2 trillion by 2030, hosted the titans of investing and finance this week at a summit where the likes of BlackRock Inc. chief Larry Fink and SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son mingled with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the head of the sovereign fund.

The event was a coming-out party of sorts for the fund. The prince announced plans for a $500 billion city called Neom on the Red Sea and said the kingdom was returning to “moderate” Islam and intended to “eradicate” extremism. (The kingdom also introduced a robot named Sophia to whom it had granted citizenship.) SoftBank’s Son said he plans to invest in the new city and potentially acquire a “substantial” equity stake in state-controlled Saudi Electricity Co. So far, the sovereign fund has offered peeks at what it intends to do, and its head described its investment strategy.