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Khalid AlBaker, CEO of Quality of Life Program Center

SAUDI ARABIA - Health & Education

Khalid AlBaker

CEO, Quality of Life Program Center

Bio

In July 2022, Mr. Khalid Albaker was appointed as the CEO of Quality of Life (QoL) Program Center which is one of the vision 2030 programs aiming to improve individuals and families’ quality of life by creating the necessary enablement to improve livability, and develop lifestyle options. Before promoted to lead QoL, Khalid was leading two sectors at the program since mid-2020: Chief Delivery Support officer which is the core operation of the Program as well as acting Chief of Marketing and Communications officer. Khalid currently holds memberships in a diverse range of boards and committees; the most recent one being, member of Hail Municipality Company’s founding Board, in addition, to the architectural urban identity committee, and lastly, two QoL program subcommittees linked to to the QoL program committee; one representing the QoL Conference and the other focusing on creativity and innovation. Prior to his joining to the QoL program, Mr. Albaker held many positions and led number of projects in sports, entertainment and tourism sectors. In addition to membership in various committee such as the Saudi Dakar Rally Committee, Formula E, Jeddah Season, Hail Season, MAHAD Program Transformation to MAHAD Academy, Tourism Sector Highlights and requirements, Investment Enablement of General Entertainment Authority. In regards to academic record, Mr. Albaker holds a Master Degree in Business Administration from Alyamamah University. He obtained a recent certificate in management from the London Business School in addition to many other professional certificates in Project management field.

"We have been using various methods to promote the Kingdom to foreign visitors and investors.”
TBY talks to Khalid AlBaker, CEO of Quality of Life Program Center, about impacting lives, promoting FDI, and short-term priorities.
The Quality of Life Program was launched in 2018 to expand the horizons of many sectors that directly impact the life of citizens and of the communities of KSA. What are its main objectives?

The Quality of Life program, launched as a Vision 2030 Realization Program to act as an all- encompassing concept that aims to improve the quality of life of not only for Saudi’s, but all residents and visitors in addition to ensuring a positive evolution in both lifestyle and livability in the Kingdom. By livability, we mean security, infrastructure, and education. This includes diversifying the choices individuals have in their daily life, such as tourism, entertainment, sports and culture When the program started in 2018, the main focus was on entertainment, culture, and sports to begin with, we approached this by looking at how we can enhance these sectors, and what was needed to achieve our livability goals. Another key area of impact amongst the program is working with other programs and government bodies to make sure they are delivering on the Kingdoms ambition through diversified initiatives which the program supports. During the early days of initiation of the program, the key focus was on developing and enriching new sectors such as hobbies, introducing Saudi cinema’s and developing regulations to support the ecosystem, as well as improving current sectors such as sports (Saudi Games), culture (Diriyah Biennale), and tourism (Visit Saudi). We have since created synergies, cooperating with other institutions such as the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Culture, and municipalities , and we try our best to make sure the entire ecosystem is aligned in achieving our strategic goals. We are grateful on the development of the key sectors the program supports, and a key driver for this success is having 90% of government bodies represented within our committee , having such entities sitting on one table and working towards achieving the same goals ripples down into all working teams and ensures success across government and private sector in achieving our core goal, which is enhancing the quality of life for Saudis, its residents, and all visitors.

How are you fostering and promoting FDI to Saudi Arabia?

We have been using various methods to promote the Kingdom to foreign visitors and investors. At the Quality of Life program, one of our main methods of introducing international investment is by attracting international events. For example, we have hosted the Spanish Super Cup, the Italian Super Cup, the Dakar Rally, and the Formula One. In the culture ecosystem, we hosted the Red Sea Film Festival and have also collaborated with the Cordon Bleu in France and offered scholarship opportunities for Saudi Chefs to get certified and professionally trained. We have also worked closely with Invest Saudi and support their initiatives in attracting investments, all these efforts have supported establishing many business opportunities with different countries, not to forget the various Saudi platforms we have created which showcase all available and potential opportunities, be they the Ministry of Sports or the Ministry of Culture. In addition to ensuring a fully automated process while setting up investments and/or business in the Kingdom, we know that there are various new sectors being developed in the Kingdom and for those sectors we are aware that international expertise need to be imported, and to enhance the acquiring of that know-how, we need international investors to invest in Saudi. In short the Saudi economy is booming by opening and facilitating investment in different sectors, so there are plenty of opportunities for both Saudi’s and internationals.

How are you creating synergies with other institutions, encouraging the involvement of the business community in your mandate?

A strong economy is built by many strong SME’s. This is something we all believe in. We have dedicated funds for each sector; some of them are ready, and others will be ready soon, this is to ensure that SME’s have the right level of support and access to resources, which with time will further develop the sector into a thriving industry. Additionally, we have worked with banks and financial institutions to ensure they provide loans with low interest rates for SMEs & have waived many obligations for SMEs in the Kingdom. Let’s not forget that when you build the right ecosystem of SMEs, you by default build the right communities which collectively ensure growth and prosperity. Education and knowledge is another track of synergies we are creating to develop the community, as of today we have created scholarships at major universities all around the world. We have made it possible for people to gain international know how and apply their learnings and experience in various sectors within the Kingdom. There are many examples when it comes to sports, culture and entertainment. We not only make it easy for SMEs to do business, but also help build relations with international stakeholders and entities. We make sure they are ready to deliver and compete on a larger scale. With all that in place, many SMEs are not only opening in Saudi, but also relocating headquarters to the Kingdom as a result. And for this reason we now have a steady economy.

What are your short-term key priorities and goals?

Putting humans first, this comes primarily from working on changing our cities from designed for vehicles to designed for people as our top priority. We are working on designing cities of the future and designing them with people at the core, making sure there are walkway, bike lanes, beautiful parks, sports and recreational facilities for people to enjoy easily and safely. In addition, we want to ensure everything we are doing stays true to our future sustainability goals and promises to our environment. Internally, we have developed our social framework as well as an environmental framework, in the past we used to measure everything in terms of economic impact; however, now we measure not only the economic impact, but also environmental and social impacts, making sure that everything we do does not have a negative impact.

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