Bahrain set to host most important regional investor summit as expert hails economy
Bahrain will host on June 1-2, 2010 one of the most important business meetings at a regional level - MENA Investors Summit 2010. This events attracts some 150 of the most sophisticated investors from the MENA region, each with a minimum of US$500 million worth of assets under management.
At this sensitive timing, the summit will touch relevant topics such as “World investor outlook and investment trends in light of economic turbulence and diminished investor confidence”, “Private investments post-recession: Which sectors were hit hard and what strategies pay off the most, “The world of finance and private equity in MENA: Historical trends versus latest developments: and “Key challenges and opportunities in today’s economic environment: Understanding regional dynamics.”
Among others, the summit this year features one-to-one meetings with lucrative investment opportunities and capital-raising workshops hosting up to 15 investors per workshop room. This year, key speakers include Boyd Winton, Director Business Development - Financial Services at Bahrain Economy Development Board, Dr. Hytham Al Qahtani, Executive General Manager at Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo, Abdul Rahman Al Baker, Executive Director, Financial Institutions Supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain, Alan Durrant, Chief Investment Officer at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Michael Essex, Director at IFC - World Bank Group.
According to the organizers, 27% of the investors in attendance at the summit are from Saudi Arabia, 21% from UAE, 15% from Egypt, 13% from Qatar, 7% from Kuwait, 7% from Iraq and 10% from the rest of the Arab world.
The venue – Bahrain – is not surprising. In recent years the kingdom has implemented a long series of economic and business reforms which caught the eyes of the international business and investor community. Bahrain has established itself as a regional financial hub and avoided the poor destiny of it neighbor and main competitor, Dubai.
The economic reforms are part of Bahrain’s Vision 2030, the blueprint for the Kingdom's future issued by Bahrain Economy Development Board in late 2008 (EDB). In this ambitious plan, Bahrain is committed to put in place diversified measures to ensure that Bahrain's economic growth and development. The vision foresees the economy diversifying away from oil with special emphasis on financial services, industry, logistics, business services and tourism.
Indeed, Bahrain looks to achieve its goals. The Kingdom held a respectable ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2009, which was published recently. Bahrain was positioned in 38th out of over 130 countries. Ahead of the MENA Investors Summit 2010, we spoke from Dubai with Dr. Gil Feiler, a financial expert and author of the Economist Intelligence Unit (Great Britain) Rethinking business strategy for the Middle East and North Africa. “Bahrain has shown its financial strength since the outbreak of the global crisis”, Feiler, who is also the publisher of IPR Strategic Business Information, said. Based on his calculations, Bahrain is expected to register this year, about 4% economic growth. “At this time, this economic growth rate is a massive gain for this economy”, the expert conveyed.
“Bahrain offers a lot of opportunities for investors. The business environment is helping to boost Bahrain attractiveness”, he noted. “This country is building on the financial industry in contrast to other countries in the region which their economies are based on oil and gas. Some 30% of Bahrain’s GDP is based on the finance sector – a figure you can’t see in other parts of the Middle East,” Feiler added.