Performance Magazine - Issue 20

Insights

Performance Magazine - Issue 20

May 2016

The fall in oil prices, regional conflicts, the easing of Iranian sanctions and slowdown in key emerging markets, have certainly continued to keep the Middle East in the spotlight. Some see these as challenging times, whilst others would seek opportunities in such times of adversity.

From our perspective, the region still presents considerable growth opportunities for both the public and private sector entities. Governments across the region continue to step-up their proactive efforts to sustain the development and diversification of their respective economies in sectors like aviation, tourism, transportation, health, education and financial services.

The Government of Abu Dhabi in the UAE, recently established the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM), as a financial free zone, gearing ADGM as a business-friendly environment, operating in line with international best practices. ADGM along with its neighbour, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are collectively looking to re-shape the UAE’s financial services landscape, attracting many foreign players to set-up a presence in these financial free zones and using them as a business gateway to the broader region.

Qatar too has already established the Qatar Financial Centre and with the development of the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is well underway. It’s only a matter of time before the financial services sector becomes a key economic contributor for these countries.

Similarly, although the region’s banks are seeing some slowdown in market activity, due to the associated geopolitical risk and reduction in the in-flow of petrodollars, these banks continue to be well capitalised, with healthy balance sheets and record profit announcements.

Some of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world are also very much from the Middle East region and continue to play an active role in the local and international markets. At the same time, new products and services are being offered by investment management entities to cater to the specific needs of both the local and expat segments of the society.

Overall, the future prospect for financial services looks strong for the Middle East and we remain confident for a prosperous future for the region.

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