Is the Middle East ready for investment?

Today, as Middle Eastern countries try to address the biggest challenge they face – creating jobs for rapidly burgeoning populations – the region’s economies are wide open to the opportunities overseas investment brings.

Gus Freeman says: “Until 2000, FDI (foreign direct investment) was not a big phenomenon for Middle East countries. However, with the economic boom from 2004 to 2008, this changed. The Middle East became a major destination for foreign investment.”

Of all Middle Eastern destinations, Dubai has been easily the most active in terms of attracting FDI. It has operated free zone areas, allowing foreign organizations to operate exempt from local regulations, since the 1980s.

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But, in the last decade, Saudi Arabia and Oman have also enacted laws to liberalize the economic environment sufficiently for foreign investors. Saudi Arabia, too, has worked hard to become recognized on The World Bank index of the world’s leading centers for business.

But it is not only Gulf economies that have looked to attract investors; Lebanon and Egypt have also worked hard to achieve it.

Freeman adds: “The rewards for any MENA or GCC country that can make itself genuinely attractive to outside investors are potentially huge. The world wants to invest in the Middle East. The question is, does the Middle East want that investment enough to challenge old ways of going about business? It is not an easy thing to do.”

The complete article was written by:

  • Damian Reilly
    Former Editor Arabian Business, Middle East

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