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SAUDI ARABIA - Tourism

Mohammed Bindayel

CEO, Cultural Development Fund (CDF)

Bio

A seasoned investment professional with 20 years of experience in treasury, corporate finance, and investment management, Mohammed Bindayel joined the CDF as CEO in the spring of 2021. He also serves as board member and executive committee member at Alinma Bank. Prior to CDF, he was in a leadership role at AlRa’idah Investment Company, and before that he was at Saudi Aramco for 15 years where he held a variety of treasury and finance leadership roles.

"CDF has a dedicated team focused on fundraising and investment attraction."

Mohammed Bindayel, CEO of the Cultural Development Fund (CDF), talks to TBY about its efforts to attract investment into Saudi Arabia’s cultural sector.

What have been the milestones for the CDF in recent years?

CDF has achieved numerous milestones in the past year. While the focus has been on establishing and launching the fund, in parallel numerous achievements have been realized including agreements with financial institutions to deploy capital with Riyad Bank and Kafalah; provision of grants through the Quality of Life (QoL) program; launch of the IGNITE Film Financing program; and the tapping into the crowdfunding channel through Sukuk and Manafa Capital platforms. The launch of these various initiatives is in line with CDF’s ambition to act as the platform of funding for the cultural sector in KSA through NDF and external capital.

Saudi Arabia was one of the fastest-growing economies of 2022. What have been CDF’s efforts in promoting the Kingdom’s cultural heritage around the world?

CDF has been actively engaging with regional and global players. CDF’s partnerships and international relations team has been actively engaging with relevant stakeholders to sign strategic partnerships. In addition, CDF has been involved in roadshows globally to engage with cultural stakeholders and investors. Finally, through its partnership and participation at FII, CDF has engaged with global players resulting in numerous potential partnership opportunities.

The Kingdom has seen a rise in FDI this year, recording the highest flow of investments since 2011. What are your efforts in attracting FDI to fund Saudi cultural projects? And which segments have the best potential for growth?

CDF has a dedicated team focused on fundraising and investment attraction. The team is in the process of developing packages with clear and actionable investment opportunities to attract FDI. In addition, CDF’s programs include allocations to encourage international investors to deploy funds in KSA. For example, the IGNITE film financing program has an FDI-focused product. Given the nascent nature of the cultural sector in the Kingdom, all segments have a high potential to grow.

How is CDF positioning Saudi Arabia as a global hub for tourism and entertainment and increasing the number of visitors?

Through its funding to the cultural sector, CDF plays a critical role in enhancing the quality of life and the Kingdom’s attractiveness to both its residents and visitors. A vibrant cultural sector is a critical component of a successful touristic destination. To achieve this objective, in its evaluation methodology to extend funding to beneficiaries, CDF incorporates and evaluates the impact on tourism of the project and ranks more favorably opportunities with a higher impact.

What are CDF’s key priorities for the year ahead?

CDF will continue to activate its vision to be the platform of funding for the cultural sector by establishing partnerships with financial institutions and investors; enhancing private-sector participation; building the fact base on the cultural sector’s value chains; prioritizing funding deployment; launching new programs and financial products; and increasing its reach in the cultural ecosystem and with various types of beneficiaries.

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