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Saudi Arabia moves beyond oil

An advocate of privatization and foreign investment, Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf is a key figure in economic change in Saudi Arabia.

IBRAHIM ABDULAZIZ AL-ASSAF wins Euromoney's finance minister of the year award for his prudent, consistent and practical management of Saudi Arabia's economy in a difficult and volatile regional and international climate.

He has earned national, regional and international respect as a driver of reform who has also maintained budgetary discipline and introduced measures to diversify the economy.

While much of the world has teetered on the edge of recession, Saudi Arabia's economy, including the non-oil sector, which will have to provide employment for the growing number of Saudis coming on to the job market, has continued to grow by between 4% and 5%.

Al-Assaf's policies have helped Saudi Arabia to maintain international confidence in the face of the rapid escalation of tension with the US, historically its closest economic and political partner, which now seems to be re-evaluating its relationship with the kingdom.

The far-reaching changes in the Saudi Arabian economy that he has championed would have been inconceivable only a few years ago. Yet Al-Assaf has won the arguments with those who want to keep a closed economy, and today the country has among the most liberal foreign investment laws in the region. The transformation of the financial sector, including capital market, insurance and taxation reforms, has been nothing short of remarkable.

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