Alabbar calls on developed nations to shun investment protectionism
Investment protectionism is a barrier to global economic growth and developed nations should avoid this practice, Emaar Properties Chairman Mohamed Ali Alabbar told international business and government leaders assembled at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China, at the forum’s opening plenary session on Thursday. The United States and members of the European Union should instead do their best to create a level playing field and serve as role models for the rest of the world, he said.
“Investment is a bonus for nations, companies, industries and individuals, whether it is the case of DP World acquiring P&O or Borse Dubai trying to acquire equity in OMX,” Alabbar said at the WEF Dalian opening plenary session on the global economic outlook. “The Middle East has the liquidity, and should be given the opportunity to move into established and developing markets. Only when the large economies of the world take their foot off the brakes will growth advance.” The World Economic Forum’s inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions at Dalian, focused on the new generation of fast-emerging multinational companies, opened Thursday in the Chinese coastal city. Likened to a “Summer Davos,” the high-powered gathering of business, industry and government leaders has drawn more than 1,700 participants from 90 countries. The Emaar chairman also advised the Arab world to get its own house in order before expanding internationally.
“Sovereign wealth funds, particularly those originating from the Arab world, should be more transparent and open about their intentions,” Alabbar said. “We should take this step voluntarily, before we are forced to do it. It is in our own best interests.” The investment arms of city and state governments around the world, sovereign wealth funds account for an estimated US$2.5 trillion in assets, according to recent estimates. Some of the largest such funds originate in the Gulf. Additionally, five nations in the Middle East hold US$1.7 trillion in their central banks, the largest single concentration of assets in the world. The center of global wealth, Mr Alabbar added, is shifting from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, creating the right conditions for the new global champions from the Middle East and Asia and the basis for the new world economy.
Other participants in Thursday’s opening plenary session on the Global Economic Outlook included William Rhodes, Chairman, President and CEO of Citi North America; Heizo Takenaka, Director of the Global Security Research Institute at Japan’s Keio University and member of the Forum’s Foundation Board; Wei Jiafu, Group President and CEO of the China Ocean Shipping Group Co., and Kristin J. Forbes, Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The session was chaired by Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator of the Financial Times.