Lost in the furor over what Moscow did or did not do, and what effects it did or did not have, is the broader question of what this incident says about Russian intentions and aims. Just how unusual was it for great powers to interfere in a democracy’s electoral processes, and just how outraged should Americans be by the alleged activities?
Dr. Khalid Alsweilem is the former Chief Counselor and Head of Investment at the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA). He joined SAMA in 1991 after completing a two-year post doctoral fellowship at Harvard University’s Department of Economics. The fellowship research focused on a portfolio theory approach to public finance in Saudi Arabia. Before that, he completed his Masters and PhD degrees in economics (public enterprises, public finance, and industrial organizations) at Boston University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from the University of Arizona.
Dr. Alsweilem began his work at SAMA as an advisor in the Investment Department, and two years later became the Head of Investment Management (Chief Investment Officer). In 2002, he was promoted to become the Director General of the Department, in addition to his responsibility as the Chief Investment Officer, managing the country's vast foreign assets. According to Dr. Alsweilem, the Investment Department at SAMA was able to manage risk effectively through prudent investment and efficient diversification among global currencies and instruments, with performance exceeding most sovereign funds. The Investment Department, he says, “managed to successfully overcome both the 1998 Asian crisis and the 2008 global financial crisis, to become by the end of 2012 the third largest holder of reserves after Japan and China, and the largest among all sovereign funds in the world.” He is one of the longest serving and most successful sovereign investment practitioners, having held senior investment positions at SAMA for over two decades.
He was also responsible for the implementation of SAMA's monetary policy operations to ensure banking sector system liquidity and the strength and stability of the Saudi local currency. Additionally, since the start of the Sovereign rating process in Saudi Arabia more than ten years ago, Dr. Alsweilem was responsible for coordinating the country's efforts with major international rating agencies to highlight the Kingdom's financial strength and its social and political stability, resulting in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia obtaining a distinguished high sovereign rating in the AA category.
In addition to his non-resident affiliation with Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, Dr. Alsweilem is a board/investment committee member with several institutions. He is chairman of Ashmore Investment Saudi Arabia; an independent board member at Fajr Capital; a board member at Al Ra'edah Investment; and an investment committee member at the Arab Gulf Fund for Development (AGFUND). He is also Global Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) Advisor with Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC).
At the Belfer Center, Dr. Alsweilem focuses on the study of sovereign wealth funds, with a particular focus on Saudi Arabia’s reserve sovereign funds and their linkages to the real economy.
Dr. Alsweilem’s research at the Belfer Center complements the theoretical work he did at Harvard’s Department of Economics on portfolio theory approach to public finance in Saudi Arabia and its application to the work he did at SAMA during the past 20 years.
Dr. Alsweilem was a lead author for three recent papers on sovereign funds models and institutions. Completed in April 2015, these include a report specific to Saudi Arabia titled A Stable and Efficient Fiscal Framework for Saudi Arabia: The Role of Sovereign Funds in Decoupling Spending from Oil Revenue and Creating a Permanent Source of Income. The three publications were published as joint reports by the Belfer Center for Science and International affairs and the Center for International Development (CID).
Khalid Alsweilem may be reached at email@example.com.