Summer 2018

OPINION: New income streams

Romil_PatelAlthough it is awash with oil and therefore capital, the Gulf region is at a critical juncture: it must diversify its economy away from a reliance on hydrocarbons. Petroleum prices may have revived lately in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal’s collapse, but they are still well below the highs seen in 2014. Previous attempts to reduce the region’s dependency on oil and open up other revenue streams have fallen short. Even so, experts are optimistic that it’s genuinely different this time. Diversification presents challenges, but these are dwarfed by the potential opportunities: to grow a competitive private sector that locals flock to for work; to liberalise certain aspects of society, such as the entertainment sector; and to reduce government subsidies. To that end, the Saudis certainly appear to have a plan, known as Vision 2030. Nonetheless, questions remain about the timeframe and the details (notably the location) of state oil giant Aramco’s stock market listing, seen as critical to the kingdom’s efforts. Targeting intergenerational wealth accumulation, sovereign wealth funds are financial heavyweights and an increasingly important part of the Middle East’s economic landscape. The region is home to no fewer than 14 – strategy and execution are key to a brighter future. For a region that has enjoyed the fruits of the oil boom for decades, reality has hit home. Hydrocarbons may not be the income generator they once were, but as the Norway model shows, they could be used to build a more economically sustainable future. Romil Patel, acting editor, Funds Global MENA ©2018 funds global mena

Sponsored Profiles

There’s no doubt that Africa has been seen increasingly as an attractive prospect for inbound investment in recent years, with investors seeing real potential in the continent, particularly in the private equity, infrastructure and real estate asset classes, as it experiences strong economic growth.

Plausible explanations exist for why low-volatility stocks perform better than their high-volatility counterparts.

Aberdeen Asset Management has set up its first Middle East office in the newly established Abu Dhabi Global Market. Andrew Paul, senior executive officer, explains why.

A recent sovereign bond issue from Saudi Arabia underlines the appeal of emerging market investing. What must investors consider when allocating to this asset class? Firas Mallah of BMO Global Asset Management shares his views.

Executive Interviews

INTERVIEW: ‘Financing is the blood of Iran’s economy’

Amid a fresh wave of American sanctions, Romil Patel spoke to Meysam Hamedi, director of financial markets and instruments at Iran’s Securities & Exchange Organization (SEO).

INTERVIEW: Totally mega

In 2016, global consulting firm PWC forecast the emergence of five global ‘megatrends’ in the next two decades. Stephen Anderson, its Middle East clients and markets leader, talks about their...

INTERVIEW: Protecting the investment

Rasmala’s trade finance fund recently passed $100 million in assets. Doug Bitcon, head of credit strategies, explains why he has to be hands-on.

EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW: A natural interest in the topic

Since 2016, Guillermo Ortiz has been a chairman of Latin America’s BTG Pactual. The former central banker of Mexico talks to Nick Fitzpatrick.

Roundtables

South Africa asset management roundtable: Global rebound on ice

Experts discuss the investment implications of the coronavirus pandemic, a delayed rebound in global growth and dealing with South Africa’s energy issues head on. Chaired by Romil Patel in Cape Town.

South African roundtable: Taking the bull by the horns

Our panel discusses Chinese investment in Africa, financial institutions’ contribution to economic sustainability and regulatory concerns. Chaired by Romil Patel in Cape Town.

ROUNDTABLE: Hooked to the global caravan

With the MENA region at a tipping point, our panellists talk about economic diversification, the impact of regulation and the delayed Saudi Aramco listing. Chaired by Romil Patel in Dubai.

MENA ROUNDTABLE: ‘The story is about reforms’

Our cross-industry panel discuss the positive backdrop in Egypt, the Dana Gas controversy and the potential index upgrades of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Chaired by George Mitton in Dubai.