Between October 23rd and 27th, M31 Capital led an elite delegation of senior Chinese CEOs and executives to the Middle East to engage in in-depth discussions with global political and business decision-makers, government ministers from various Middle-Eastern countries, and senior executives of sovereign wealth funds.
Delegates from nearly 20 sector-leading organizations convened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Doha, Qatar; and Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, to engage in a series of high-level, invitation-only discussions. These delegates represent leadership from an array of strategically important sectors, including renewable energy, electric vehicles, robotics and automation, biopharmaceutical, artificial intelligence, semiconductor and internet-of-things, among others.
In an increasingly polarized world marked by protectionism and populism, the emergence of regional conflicts, and escalating geopolitical tensions among the world’s largest economies, it is imperative for businesses to maintain a continuous exchange of structural dialogues that seek and foster understanding, growth and prosperity.

Below are some of the meeting highlights from this year’s delegation trip.

Future Investment Initiative (“FII”) Conference
In the opening session on the first day of FII, 11 leaders from the financial sector convened on the panel “Board of Changemakers: Navigating New Norms.” Speakers included H.E. Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund; Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater Associates; Jamie Dimon, Chairman of J.P. Morgan; Noel Quinn, CEO of HSBC Group; Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock; Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman of Blackstone Group; David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs; David Rubenstein, Co-Founder of The Carlyle Group; Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank Group; and Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries. Among those in the audience were Crown Prince H.R.H Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (“MBS”); Yoon Suk Yeol, President of South Korea; and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
VIP Speaker Series
In a jam-packed afternoon, M31 Capital hosted a series of VIP speaker discussions at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At the invitation of Patrick Zhong, M31 Capital Founding Managing Partner, five esteemed guests were invited to speak with the M31 delegation and to exchange notes on a number of prevailing issues concerning the delegates’ businesses. As one delegate creatively put it, “the speaker series were like a ‘hardtack,’ extremely satisfying, with so much to take in to digest.”
The guests were Jenny Johnson, CEO of Franklin Templeton; George Osborne, former First Secretary of State and former Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom; H.E. Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and National Economy of Bahrain and Chairman of Mumtalakat; Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing; and Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter, Executive Vice President and CTO of Saudi Aramco.
Jenny Johnson, CEO of Franklin Templeton
  • Franklin Templeton ranks among the world’s largest asset managers, overseeing $1.4 trillion in assets under management (AUM). Jenny Johnson is the third-generation of the family to lead the business.
  • Jenny Johnson highlighted Franklin Templeton’s commitment to continuous technological innovation. Despite initial concerns about automation, such as the potential job displacement of roles like financial advisers during the internet’s early days, unforeseen opportunities and industries have arisen, underscoring the essential role of human ingenuity. Innovations like the iPhone have generated unexpected businesses and job prospects that were not initially anticipated.
  • Jenny Johnson provided her insights into the American IRA policy, emphasizing that investments in new energy sources in the United States should take into account not just short-term policy incentives but also long-term commercial viability. On the whole, she maintains that the United States is well-equipped to accomplish various objectives within the field of energy transition.
  • When asked about how to excel as the CEO of a large organization, Jenny Johnson believes in focusing on the 4Ps: People, Passion, Purpose, and Persistence. She emphasized the importance of surrounding yourself with exceptional individuals, having a genuine passion for what you do, and aligning your work with a clear purpose. At Franklin Templeton, they define their purpose as helping people achieve significant financial milestones in their lives, and Johnson underscores the significance of presenting your work in a purposeful manner that inspires others to follow. She also underscores the value of embracing uncertainty and confronting the challenges that inevitably arise.
George Osborne, Former First Secretary of State and Former Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom
  • George shared his latest insights on global geopolitics and also discussed his views on energy transition. He acknowledged that energy transition is a global trend, with the UK and the European Union having legislation in place to phase out carbon technologies. However, funding for these transitions often comes from consumer levies or government taxes, which can be a burden on individual citizens, leading to delays or extended timelines for implementing green policies in many regions due to economic challenges.
  • George noted that Europe faces increasing challenges in engaging with China, particularly in areas related to national security. Nevertheless, he emphasized the significant opportunities for Chinese companies to expand their presence in Europe across various other sectors.
H.E. Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and National Economy of Bahrain; Chairman of Mumtalakat
  • The delegation received a warm welcome from a distinguished assembly of Bahraini representatives, including H.E. Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and National Economy and Chairman of Mumtalakat, sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain; H.E. Shaikh Abdulla bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, CEO of Mumtalakat; H.E. Shaikh Ali bin Abdulrahman bin Ali Al Khalifa, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Riyadh, KSA; H.E. Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board and has recently been appointed the next governor of the Bahrain Central Bank; Shaikh Fahad Al Khalifa, advisor to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister’s Office; and CEO of Bahrain’s Future Generations Fund.
  • Bahrain’s Minister of Finance has a vision for Bahrain to ascend as a regional hub comparable to Singapore. The nation’s primary emphasis encompasses six key sectors: banking, tourism, manufacturing, logistics, telecommunications, and natural gas. He actively encourages more Chinese businesses to establish their presence in Bahrain.
Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Limited
  • Nicolas Aguzin highlighted his primary objective: the creation of an international market in Hong Kong that amalgamates the strengths of global financial centers such as New York and Shanghai, with a strong emphasis on stability and unique offerings. He underscored the pivotal role of enticing international companies to list in Hong Kong and the essential importance of attracting investors to make this vision a reality.
Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Saudi Aramco
  • The delegation met a group of senior representatives from Aramco, including Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer; Mahdi Aladel, CEO of Aramco Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of Saudi Aramco; and other representatives from Aramco and Prosperity7 Ventures.
  • The primary focus of the discussion revolved around investment and cooperation opportunities in the clean energy sector and fields like robotics.
FII Breakfast Dialogues: Another Look at China
M31 Capital co-hosted the second-annual ‘FII Breakfast Dialogues‘ series alongside FII Institute, extending invitations to some of the brightest minds from around the globe to share their unique perspectives.
About 40 key guests attended the closed-door discussion, including Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio and Carlyle Group CEO Harvey Schwartz. Ray Dalio has been studying China’s economic issues since the 1980s and is considered one of the most knowledgeable international investors on China. Harvey Schwartz is the CEO of The Carlyle Group and, before joining Carlyle, he served as President and Co-COO of Goldman Sachs. Carlyle is currently one of the world’s top two private equity firms, and one of the earliest US dollar funds to enter China.
Other important speakers at the closed-door discussion included Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, and Nisa Leung, Managing Partner of Qiming Venture Partners.
Key guests attending the closed-door discussion alongside China’s top entrepreneurs included former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Laura Cha, Chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute, Jenny Johnson, CEO of Franklin Templeton, Jack Selby, founding member of PayPal, Dan Loeb, founder of top hedge fund Third Point, Eric Cantor, former US House Majority Leader, Fenglei Fang, founder of Hopu Investments, Sara Menker, selected in 2021 TIME 100 list, representatives from Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds, well-known entrepreneurs from Europe and the Americas, and more.
Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (“MISA”)
The delegation had the privilege of meeting with distinguished senior representatives from MISA, under the capable leadership of H.E. Saleh Al-Khabti, Deputy Minister of Investment Transactions. The ensuing two-hour dialogue delved into key aspects, including the economic landscapes of both China and Saudi Arabia, the imperative for leading businesses to embrace global expansion, and MISA’s compelling value proposition for enterprises aspiring to venture into Saudi Arabia and beyond. In a gracious gesture, H.E. Saleh Al-Khabti offered to personally serve as the bridge between Chinese entrepreneurs and MISA, while M31 has committed to ongoing support for additional Chinese corporations with an interest in expanding their presence in Saudi Arabia.
Qatar Investment Authority (“QIA”)
The delegation was met with multiple teams from QIA’s local and Asia investment teams. Delegates had the opportunity to introduce their businesses and QIA in exchange offered its value proposition. The parties traded notes on possible mutual collaboration and sought grounds for common prosperity.
Sheikh Mohammed H. F. Al-Thani, Member of Qatari Royal Family and CEO of Qatar Free Zones (“QFZ”)
Mr. Sheikh Mohammed H. F. Al-Thani, a distinguished member of the Qatari Royal Family and the CEO of QFZ, graciously played host to the M31 delegation, providing an informative tour of the organization’s free zones. QFZ, founded in 2018 as an independent agency, has been steadfast in its mission to stimulate economic growth and facilitate the smooth expansion of businesses wishing to establish a presence in the region.
The delegation was met with Mr. Ahmed Yahia Al Idrissi, CEO of Direct Investments, and Mr. Mohamed Albadr, Head of China Investments, and other senior representatives of China Investments Team and Value Creation Team.
Abu Dhabi Global Markets (“ADGM”)

The ADGM hosted the M31 delegation on the closing day of its 6-day trip in the Middle East. Among those in attendance were Bharath Shivappa, Executive Vice President at ADGM; Ayesha Al Helli, International Operations Officer (China) at Abu Dhabi Investment Office; Joe Chamoun, Head of Partnerships at Abu Dhabi Residents Office; Gabriel Cotellessa, Head of Investments at Abu Dhabi IPO; and representatives from Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s unique global tech ecosystem.

The Middle-Eastern markets hold immense promise for Chinese businesses, and M31 Capital remains steadfast in its mission to facilitate growth, collaboration, and success in this dynamic region.