x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE may look to invest in US markets

Key financiers indicate the UAE could weather the world financial crisis and look to invest in the US markets.

DUBAI // The UAE has remained upbeat in its financial outlook and is looking to invest in US and European markets. But a key figure in the capital has admitted feasibility of projects is being assessed because of the global financial crisis. Soud Ba'alawy, executive chairman of Dubai Group, the diversified financial company of Dubai Holding, and Sameer al Ansari, the head of Dubai International Capital, indicated the UAE could weather the world financial crisis and look to invest in the US markets. The two have been attending the inaugural Summit on Global Agenda, hosted by the World Economic Forum and the Dubai Government. "There will be fantastic opportunities in the next 12 to 18 months ... and that is not exclusive to Europe and North America. There will be fantastic opportunities in Russia, India, China and this region," Mr Ansari, who controls about US$13 billion (Dh47.75bn) in assets, said at the summit. He said his company had done very little in 2008 and would wait until 2010 to invest in foreign markets as prices hit rock bottom. Mr Ansari said Dubai's estimated Dh70 billion debt was manageable and it would not need to be bailed out as the credit crunch hit the GCC. Mr Ba'alawy said availability of cash and low interest rates could help the UAE to weather the crisis, then recover quicker than expected. Hussain al Nowais, the chairman of Emirates Holdings and a member of the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development, said on the opening day of the summit Abu Dhabi was considering mergers in its banking and financial services sector because of the global crisis. "I think the credit crisis will help us reflect and make sure the projects we are proceeding with are attractive and feasible," Mr Nowais told Reuters news agency. "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." There has been speculation the credit crunch will force banks in the region to consolidate, with tight lending conditions and slower project funding. In September, there were rumours that the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank would merge with the larger National Bank of Abu Dhabi to create the biggest lender in the UAE. Both banks denied it. Addressing the opening of the inaugural Summit on Global Agenda, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, blamed financial policies, and not flaws in the economy, for the global financial crisis. "I am not saying that we must have a protected economy but [we should] promote a process of co-operation to protect regional and international economies," Sheikh Mohammed said. There has been speculation the credit crunch will force banks in the region to consolidate, with tight lending conditions and slower project funding. In September, there were rumours that the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank would merge with the larger National Bank of Abu Dhabi to create the biggest lender in the UAE. Both banks denied it. Addressing the opening of the inaugural Summit on Global Agenda, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, blamed financial policies, not flaws in the economy, for the global financial crisis. "I am not saying that we must have a protected economy but [we should] promote a process of co-operation to protect regional and international economies," Sheikh Mohammed said. Economics and finance were among the key topics to be discussed by more than 700 experts from academia, business, government and society during the three-day conference that ends tomorrow. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said: "This is an exciting and historic venture, made more timely by recent events. "The challenges faced by the world today are more complex, more interrelated, more intractable than ever before. "In these crucial times, what we want to do is find the right formula with transparency so that the next generation can benefit. We just have to look at the global financial crisis to see we need to do something about our future." Mr Klaus, speaking on the opening day, highlighted the importance of the role developing countries such as the United Arab Emirates could play in framing the future. "Strong emerging countries have a say on how the future is shaped, and one of the reasons why we will have the summit in Dubai is because the country here has a vision and a strong growth potential," he said. Health, religious extremism and social values are also on the agenda for what will become an annual event. Delegates will select the 10 most important ideas for improving the state of the world. "Problems in the world usually start in the developed countries and then hit the emerging, or developing countries," said Mohammed Alabbar, member of the Dubai Executive Council and chairman of Emaar, who used as an example the current global economic crises that started with the crash of the US housing market. "Dubai is a perfect place for such a historic meeting, which comes at a time when the world is facing challenges that have no parallel," he added. Ideas from the summit, which is held in partnership with the Government of Dubai and took 11 months to plan, will be presented at annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

shafez@thenational.ae