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The minister of finance for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim Al-Assaf, who earned his Ph.D. in economics from Colorado State University in 1982, received an honorary doctorate from CSU during spring commencement.
“Dr. Al-Assaf has demonstrated leadership that goes well beyond his country, advocating for and instilling policies that have helped pave the way for economic growth in developing countries,” said Stephan Weiler, economics professor and research associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts. “In particular, he has channeled Saudi Arabia’s investment in energy and infrastructure toward such nations, recognizing that global economic health is dependent on the success of all countries and their citizens.”
Al-Assaf thanked CSU for being so accommodating to Saudi students and reflected on his own time at the university. In 1981, he attended all of the Rams’ home football games, but the team lost every one, he said. The next year, after Al-Assaf had returned to Saudi Arabia, he couldn’t afford the airline ticket to fly back to Colorado to attend commencement and receive his Ph.D. in person, he said, making the May ceremony even more meaningful.
Al-Assaf has been integral in reshaping the Saudi economy through initiatives that modernized the Saudi financial and business sector, while creating reforms that encourage investments in infrastructure, education and human capital. His actions have not only created a more resilient Saudi economy during a volatile period but have also solidified the economies of the country’s regional neighbors and the international economic system in general.
By implementing liberal foreign investment laws in addition to capital market, insurance and taxation reforms, Al-Assaf’s strategies contributed to Saudi economic growth of up to 7 percent in 2013. By establishing transparency in the country’s finances and economy, Al-Assaf has created an environment that supports citizen confidence, analyst clarity and open debate of Saudi economic and financial policy.
With the introduction of mortgage finance and business loans for small to medium enterprises, citizens of Saudi Arabia can have access to affordable housing and pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions, benefitting the entire economy. Al-Assaf has also overseen public spending on new schools, hospitals and primary care centers in an effort to promote education and job creation in Saudi Arabia. These initiatives have helped the country diversify its revenue streams while also contributing to macroeconomic stability.