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Alternative Market Briefing

Why it might be worth betting on Arab markets - Gulfmena

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Benedicte Gravrand, Opalesque London.

Apparently, there is a change of attitude among Arab investors, especially in retail, as they are becoming more engaged. But, foreign investors, beware: “if you’re not an emerging market investor, forget the Middle-East,” said Dr. Sabah Hamad al-Sabah al-Binali, CIO at Saffar Capital, a PE fund focused on the MENA region, at a seminar in London last week. The compelling factors for the region include strong fundamentals (with oil as a key driver for growth), demographics, liquidity, convergence of markets and value. But “as some parts of the world have no cash and lots of talent, what we have is lots of cash but not talent,” he quipped.

The GDP of the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is approximately $2.7tn, making it roughly equal to India and Brazil combined, with Saudi Arabia alone at nearly $500bn. With oil to remain key driver of growth, Saffar argues that not only is there greater liquidity in the Middle East but the region is experiencing a convergence of markets, creating a similar situation to Western Europe in the late 1980s. So there is an opportunity for investments that have the ability to marry execution with the local know-how, which in turn creates a value premium.

Foreign investors are coming back to the African and MENA region, said hedge fund manager SilkInvest in ......................

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