IMF Youth Dialog Held at King Saud UniversityRoundtable Summary
March 17, 2010
Forty students from King Saud University in Riyadh—the majority of whom were business and economics undergraduates—met with an IMF staff member to share their views on a range of economic issues. A number of MBA students, the Chairman of the Department of Economics, and several faculty members joined the discussions, which were held in Arabic, and generated an active debate about issues related to unemployment, private sector development, and the role of the Fund.
Students were split into three groups, with each group responsible for leading separate discussions on the government’s role in promoting economic growth, lessons learned form the global financial crisis, and the role of the Fund. In an open session that followed, as was the case at other roundtables, students focused on the issues related to unemployment, governance and quality of institutions, skills mismatches, education, and the lack of job opportunities outside of the public sector.
An issue of particular interest to the students—which also generated much debate—was the impact of the employment of non-nationals on job prospects and compensation of Saudi nationals. A number of students questioned the efficacy of the “Saudization” program, whereby the government, using various non-market measures, has attempted to induce the private sector to hire citizens. A number of participants criticized some of the measures as being business unfriendly, but all were in favor of measures that would ensure better employment opportunities for citizens.
Most students felt that the financial crisis had not had a measurable impact on their lives or the economy at large, and blamed the crisis on the excesses of industrial nations. They also wondered whether the Fund could have done a better job of sounding the alarm ahead of the crisis, and supported a stronger Fund that could help foster better supervision and enforcement of rules among its member countries.