Khalid Al Zayani and Dr Yahya Al Yahya
Business leaders upbeat on GCC growth
Manama, November 19, 2012
The GCC can look forward to positive economic growth this year and next, according to some of the Arab world's most influential business personalities and leaders in their fields.
Around 60 leading business people met yesterday at major forum on the region's prospects at the Capital Club Bahrain, said a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
They analysed the business outlook for Bahrain and the region in the coming 12 months, providing insight into the business climate for potential opportunities and new strategies for business leadership.
"The International Monetary Fund has forecast the GCC economy will grow by 3.25 per cent in 2013, which is higher than both Europe and the US, with 0.2 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively," said PineBridge Investments Middle East chief executive Talal Alzain.
"There are clear investment opportunities in the region, including the oil and services sector, and demand-driven sectors such as health and education.
"Bahrain's economic prospects are underpinned by solid fundamentals that have not changed. The case for continued regional economic reform is just as strong to allow the private sector to grow, diversify from oil and create jobs," he added.
Al Zayani Investments Group of Companies honorary chairman Khalid Al Zayani said the fundamentals for growth are there but investment and consumer spending are being withheld due to political instability in the region, in which "we must include not only other GCC states but also Syria, Iraq and Iran".
"In Saudi Arabia, mortgage finance, housing development, construction, contracting and consumer lending will all be on the rise," said Gulf International Bank chief executive and former World Bank executive director Dr Yahya Al Yahya.
"They will be major drivers of growth in the medium term. It is expected that fiscal spending will continue at the same level as the last few years, in line with the adopted counter-cyclical economic policy of the kingdom. Major risks to the Saudi economy would be significant fluctuations in oil prices," he said.
KPMG managing partner and forum moderator Jamal Fakhro said he was confident of a positive climate in the region.
"With oil prices in the range of $110 to $120 per barrel, GCC countries will have enough cash to fund their infrastructure projects.
"The recent 'GCC Marshal Programme' will help Bahrain spend $500 million to $750 million in infrastructure projects every year for the coming 10 years." – TradeArabia News Service