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After the global financial crisis ripped through the region’s economies, financial institutions are going back to basics, reports Trends magazine.
December 21, 2009 5:47 by Jay Akasie
Instead, his firm is taking advantage of growth rates in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that he expects will rival the Western economies in the very best of times. To that end, Amwal AlKhaleej views each Middle Eastern country a bit differently.
Saudi Arabia, for example, is a demographic play with its relatively young and rapidly growing population. That means a demand for things like health clubs and schools. Last year, Amwal took a 52.5 percent stake in Saudi’s Rowad Schools, a leading chain of preparatory schools into which the firm plans to consolidate other educational chains and training centers.
Don’t forget about Saudi Arabia’s penchant for using surplus earnings from oil to fund ambitious infrastructure projects. “We’re talking about huge spending,” al-Khudairy says.
The United Arab Emirates is a different story. “Unlike Saudi, you can’t make a demographic play there,” al-Khudairy says. “The UAE is a service economy. They went from the 19th century to the 21st century in one leap, so everything there is about non-traditional growth and demand for services like fast food and shopping.”
Egypt is where al-Kudairy is perhaps most bullish. Europe’s manufacturing base is increasingly looking there because of its huge, cheap labor pool – ideal for staffing its petroleum industry, heavy industries, and industrial service businesses.
“What will happen is that the Egyptian labor pool will become more affluent, and they’ll demand better services and housing. So there will be a lot of opportunities in Egypt in the years to come,” he says.