The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) hosted a major forum to discuss the impact of global turbulence on investment in the Mena region and its future development.
The forum entitled “Global Turbulence and Mena Transformations – Political Risk and Investment Trends and Opportunities,” was held in collaboration with the Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Investments and Export Credits (ICIEC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
The forum also explored effective risk mitigants and the role of development financial institutions in the context of the challenges facing regional markets.
Speaking at the forum, leading investment experts from major international companies explored how today’s uncertain world affects prospects for regional growth.
They cited political volatility in the Mena region as well as the financial crisis in the Euro zone, as the highlights of the past year.
The experts also discussed the prospects for regional growth and the impact those events had on investment, particularly on infrastructure projects.
Opening the conference, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “The region has experienced tremendous transformation and rapid change amidst global uncertainty. In 2011 two developments affected the outlook of the region: the political and social unrest following the surge in global oil and food prices.”
“Although the long-term benefits of the Arab Spring are indisputable, since the beginning of this year the region has witnessed economic pressures driven by internal and external sources. Hence, a broad reform agenda needs to be identified to rebuild those affected countries and to rekindle organic economic growth,” he added.
According to him, infrastructure development is particularly important, as it is the foundation of overall economic growth.
“There is a lot to be done to identify opportunities and manage investment risks in the region. DIFC actively supports the growth and development of local and regional economies as evidenced by this forum,” he stated.
Michel Wormser, VP and chief operating officer of MIGA, said foreign direct investment created jobs – and job creation was the lynchpin to development in the region.
“This conference helped bring key economic players together to discuss how to allay investors’ concerns so that they feel comfortable maintaining their plans and expanding further, he remarked.
Dr Abdel-Rahman Taha, the chief executive officer of ICIEC said: “Events in the region show clearly the role Political Risk Insurance can play in attracting foreign investment into countries which need it the most.”
Speakers at the event included Dr Walid Abdelwahab, director of infrastructure, Islamic Development Bank; Khemeis El-Gazzah, director of operations, ICIEC; Dr YasarJarrar, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Dr. IlhamKadri, GM of Dow Chemical; Mouayed Makhlouf, director, International Finance Corporation; Edith Quintrell, director of operations, MIGA; Narayanan Rajagopalan, partner and chief risk and compliance officer, Abraaj Capital; Dr Nasser Saidi, chief economist, DIFC; Dr Fabio Scacciavillani, chief economist, Oman Investment Fund; Ravi Suri, MD of Standard Chartered; Ravi Vish, chief economist and director of Economics and Policy, MIGA and Simon Williams, chief Gulf economist, HSBC.
The highlights of the forum included discussion regarding investment trends, changes in capital flows and FDI in Mena, and the role regional economies play in the global investment landscape