Jim O'Neill is noticeably protective of what he calls his "creation" - the concept of the Bric economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China as the driving force for global economic growth.
Since he came out with the idea in 2001, some economists have questioned the basic principle, arguing that these countries' similarities are less important than their differences. Others suggested that he left out obvious potential Bric candidates such as Turkey and South Africa.
Some critics said the concept was merely a mechanism for relentless exploitation of developing countries.
But Mr O'Neill, as one of the world's top economists and global chairman of Goldman Sachs' asset management business, has detailed answers for all the critics, although he does concede: "Maybe I'm too proud of my creation".
He was speaking in Dubai ahead of the Goldman Sachs Asset Management conference on the Middle East and North Africa, an annual gathering designed to work out the bank's broad investment approach to the region.
Whatever the critique of the Bric concept, there is no doubt it has become one of the guiding principles of economic and financial theory of the past decade, and has helped to change the way businessmen and financiers view the world.
He recently updated the concept to take in what he calls the Next 11 or N-11 economies: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam.
His visit took in the UAE and other GCC states, and prompted some typically down-to-earth observations on the region's potential.
"From the broad Middle East region, there are two countries that have the population size to eventually become big enough, or N-11: Egypt and Iran. Both are in our list already," he says.
"No individual GCC country could reach their potential. If you thought of the GCC collectively, then you might think of them as having Bric-like potential, but not alone."
Even the biggest GCC country, Saudi Arabia, with its population of an estimated 25 million, is not a candidate for the lists currently, mainly because it lacks the basic criterion of having an economy that is more than 1 per cent of global GDP, Mr O'Neill argues.
On Egypt, he believes the country is at a crossroads, with the option of following a Turkey-style political and economic system that would make it "very interesting, very quickly".
But the vagaries of the Arab Spring and the difficulty in predicting the long-term outcome in the affected countries of the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) means that day is still some way off.
"The Mena region is 350 million or thereabouts. If you assume a peaceful transition to a new and more modern system, say five years from today, it could be the most exciting place in the world," Mr O'Neill says.
"China is going up the wealth curve quickly. Somebody else has to fill the gap as a location for low-cost production, and that could be Egypt."
He does believe, however, that parts of the region have the potential to be involved in the new order.
"Some GCC countries are well placed to be hubs for the Bric and N-11-influenced world. I often think of Dubai as a kind of N-11 centre, even the capital of the N-11 world, given its business adjacency to Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and, of course, India and Russia."
Iran faces particular problems, he says. Although Iran is included in the N-11 grouping, Goldman Sachs has not been able to invest in the country because of US sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear development plans.
"The [US] state department got in a bit of a hoo-ha when we included them [Iran] in the N-11 grouping, so we're not currently investing there," he says.
"But with a change of leadership and the removal of sanctions, we'd be attracted. It's a sophisticated and educated society below the surface. Against that, people are closely watching events involving Iran and are worried about that." Mr O'Neill says he has not so far detected any great capital inflows into the GCC region from global investors: "We see continued net inflows into the N-11 fund, and of course Egypt is part of that.
"What's happening in stock markets here is pretty interesting, but I think most of it is driven by local investors in places like Abu Dhabi and Qatar putting cash to work for them."
Apart from the relatively small size of GCC countries, Mr O'Neill points to another obstacle to the region joining the global economic mainstream - ironically, its dependence on oil, traditionally regarded as its mainstay and source of its wealth.
In a recent paper, he debated whether oil was "liquid gold or troublesome irritant".
"This is an issue," he says. "There are very few countries that have maintained permanent success with a lot of dependency on one commodity, what the economists call Dutch disease. Maybe Norway is a model for the Gulf in this regard. In that sense, how the GCC's sovereign-wealth funds succeed or not will be really important.
"Dubai is interesting because it's achieved growth without being a major oil producer. It's been pretty successful and diversified away. And hopefully they have learnt now that too much leverage is not a good thing."
Then he returns to his "creation", the Bric concept. Isn't it about time Russia was ejected from the acronym? The country is hugely dependent on oil, politically unstable and with a declining population. He rises to Russia's defence.
"I'm always being asked when you drop the 'R' from Bric, but Russia is just too important. This decade it will add more to global GDP than the whole of the euro zone. Russian equities are the most undervalued of all the Brics.
"It's especially a big issue in the UK, where there is lots of negativity about Russia. But Britain should avoid judgements about how the world should be and concentrate on how it is. "But the presidential elections are crucial. [Vladimir] Putin [the current prime minister] looks the winner, but it's a case of how he deals with victory," Mr O'Neill says. Goldman Sachs calculates eligibility for Bric and N-11 status annually using a yardstick called the "growth environment score", which measures factors such as a country's macroeconomic health and political conditions, as well as human and technological factors.
"Russia is not the lowest of the Brics on this rating, as some critics suggest. India is. I'm either really excited or very worried about India, depending on what day it is," he says.
"For example, India has a lot of highly educated people, but it also has 400-500 million very poorly educated people. Russia is good on education and technology, way ahead of India."
He is excited, too, by the growth prospects in Africa, especially Nigeria, which is already a member of the N-11. Mr O'Neill recognises the potential of South Africa, too, especially as a gateway to the continent for commodity-driven Chinese economic expansion, but says it is currently "not in the same league" as the others.
Last year, the four Bric countries formally invited South Africa to join their loose political-economic gathering at a summit in China. It was not a move Mr O'Neill approved of or endorsed. "I was surprised they let them [South Africa] in," he says.
There's that protective instinct for his "creation" again.