UAE cools on post Arab Spring investment
The UAE’s investment plans in Arab Spring countries are pending and still in the process to be formulated, an advisor at the Gulf state’s ministry of foreign trade has said.
Mahmood Sharif Mahmood told Al Arabiya that the UAE is waiting for the Arab Spring countries’ situation to settle before planning any solid investment projects there.
“We are currently formulating investment strategy and assessing risks in the Arab countries [affected by the Arab Spring],” he said.
The Arab uprising may have changed the investment map in the region with countries hit by the Arab Spring seen to be of higher-risk and the Gulf states being on the low-risk and offering abundance of investment opportunities. Many wealthy people and investors have fled Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria to the Gulf region.
“The UAE must choose [countries] where the benefits exceed the costs or where the improvement in terms of trade is the highest,” Mahmood said, adding that the country has the option to become a “pivot” in multiple economic clusters that include the Asian and Chinese markets as well as the EU-Mediterranean and the GCC.
However, Mahmood said that even before the uprisings, Gulf businesses struggled in these countries.
“Fears between Arab states that one country might dominate the other have obstructed trade relations between them.”
The advisor said such “fears” have halted the UAE from building similar projects to its Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City in Algeria, but the Gulf State was able to pursue another similar scheme without hindrance in a non-Arab country such as Malta.
But Morocco is the Arab country, he said, that offers “attractive elements” for Gulf investments.
Meanwhile, there were previous initiatives to help the Arab Spring countries.
The Deauville Partnership by the G-8 launched an international effort in 2011 to help Arab Spring countries as well as Jordan, Morocco and recently Yemen to facilitate their economic modernizations.
The partnership which includes Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, pledged to contribute with $165 million to the $250 million-fund. Saudi Arabia contributed $35 million, Kuwait $10 million and Qatar $5 million.