DIFC Forum: Five Industry Leaders Propose Ideas to Restore Confidence in the Economy

Five  prominent industry leaders from the region proposed their ideas for restoring confidence in the economy at a session held on the second day of DIFC Forum.

In response to a question asked by Maria Bartiromo, Anchor, CNBC, at a session titled ‘Get the Confidence Back’ industry leaders outlined a wide range of solutions to repair trust, inject liquidity and restore confidence in the crisis-ridden global economy.

The DIFC Forum is the second major business conference that forms part of DIFC week, the Dubai International Financial Centre’s prestigious annual series of business events.

‘Reconnect the Silk Route’ was the call given by Victor Chu, Chairman, First Eastern Investment Bank Limited. “The quickest revival of the economy can be achieved by reconnecting the Silk Route. This will enable China and the GCC region to combine their liquidity and resources to rebuild markets and restore confidence in the global economy,” he said.

“The reconnection is made easier by the fact that China and the GCC region can create economic and cultural synergies. Arab and Asian markets are connected by their high emphasis on trust and their cultural affinities. We are a bigger voice representing emerging markets,” he added.

“The reconnection is already happening,” Chu pointed out.  “Chinese investments are already coming to the region and China is inviting Saudi oil companies to invest in China,” he said.

Georges Makhoul, Managing Director and Regional Head for Morgan Stanley Middle East and North Africa, urged governments in the region to pursue what he called ‘sunshine policies’ to get confidence back in the economy. He said that it was critical for governments to adopt higher standards of corporate governance and transparency.

“When everything is going right, nobody wants to think about the mundane issues of governance and transparency. A majority of countries in the region do not have clearly stated policies. Not having an idea of what the policy is can be more damaging than having a policy that people disagree with,” Makhoul said.

“Given the critical role that governments play, it is important that they lead the way. Only when we do that will we get confidence back,” he added.

Sameer Al Ansari, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive of Dubai International Capital LLC urged GCC countries to “seize the day”.  He encouraged them to use their substantial liquidity to make strategic investments in leading global companies.

“This is our moment and we should seize it. In the last five years, this region has accumulated a lot of reserves. Asset prices are falling by the day and we have a great opportunity to diversify, acquire and bring employment opportunities to the region.  In the next 18-24 months, there will be phenomenal opportunities,” he said.

Arif Masood Naqvi Founder & Group Chief Executive Officer, Abraaj Capital Limited counselled industry leaders to sharpen their ‘emotional quotient’ (EQ) at a time when their ‘intellectual quotient’ (IQ) had failed them.

“At moments like this, what we need is more EQ. We need to generate trust. Trust may be intangible, you cannot see it or touch it, but you can feel it. Trust can drive motivation and motivation can lead to the restoration of confidence,” he said.

He also pointed out that confidence can only be restored by the government. “Governments must recognise that they should pump liquidity into the system and worry about blame later. Calm needs to be restored,” he said.

Jacques Kemp, CEO of ING Insurance Asia/Pacific advised governments and corporations to ‘reframe the issue” and look at opportunity.

“Just accept that you are in a cycle. One of the aspects of the cycle is that it will go down. Try to come out of the cycle by rephrasing the issue. You might see that there are some upsides to it. This may lead to new ideas. With these ideas, you might find solutions that can lead to confidence,” he said.

The DIFC Forum, held on 24 and 25 November, discussed critical issues like the impact of the global financial crisis on the region, the next generation of Islamic Finance, emerging markets in and after the financial crisis, and energy geopolitics in an era of structural change.

With over 70 speakers from the world’s major international markets, 21 separate sessions, and a televised debate on how to get confidence back in the global financial markets, DIFC Week will address the most important issues faced by businesses in the region both in the current financial climate and in the future. Topics to be discussed at the four-day event include growth strategies, opportunities and major challenges for family businesses both locally and internationally, the economic outlook for the world and the GCC in 2009, attracting foreign investment and human capital in the Arab world, and the practicalities of establishing operations in Dubai.

Closing DIFC Week will be a Conference on 26 November titled: ‘The Inside Track on Dubai’, which will involve a series of commercial, regulatory and teaching streams that discuss the practicalities of establishing operations in Dubai covering issues such as raising capital and understanding cultural aspects of living and working in the Emirate.

DIFC Week is proud to be supported by its Platinum Sponsors including Deutsche Bank and Abraaj Capital, and Sponsors who include Itau Securities and Goldman Sachs.  In addition, the DIFC Week Conference is sponsored by Alvarez & Marsal, Conyers, Dill & Pearman, Emirates NBD, Grant Thornton, HAYS, International Compliance Training (ICT) Middle East, Kershaw Leonard, Latham and Watkins, M: Communications, Norton Rose and Union Properties while the DIFC Week Gala Networking Reception is sponsored by Sungard. The DIFC Summit is run in association with the Tharawat Family Business Forum.  

DIFC Week is also grateful for the active support and involvement of its Knowledge Partners who include Al Tamimi & Company, British Business Group, DIFC Centre of Excellence, Oxford Analytica, Simmons & Simmons, Young Arab Leaders, and DNM connect;  its Media Partners which are, AME Info, Arabian Business,, Al Arabiya News Channel, CNBC, Dow Jones, Dubai Eye, Financial News, The Times, The Sunday Times, SAB Media, The Wall Street Journal, Oxford Business Group and Zawya; as well as DIFC Week's Joint Marketing Partner, Dubai Corporate Counsel Group.. 

In addition, DIFC Week also expresses its gratitude to Itau Securities, the Sponsors of the DIFC Week Golf Championships.

To register or find out more information about the Summit, Forum and Conference taking place at DIFC Week, visit www.difcweek.ae

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