DIFC Summit: Invest in Opportunities That Provide Good Value, Family Businesses Told



The global financial crisis may be an opportunity for family businesses with excess liquidity to make good investments that fundamentally represent good value.

This was the message from leading global and regional business and financial leaders who spoke today at the DIFC Summit organised by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Tharawat Family Business Forum, to discuss the opportunities and challenges faced by family businesses in the current global economic environment. The DIFC Summit is the first business event that forms part of DIFC Week, the DIFC’s prestigious annual series of business conferences.

HE Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Vice Chairman of the UAE Central Bank said: “The current financial crisis may provide several opportunities for family businesses to make investments both globally and regionally. In investing, family businesses should focus on good business value. As long as an investment is a good deal today, it will eventually bring good returns. The global economic cycle will turn and when it turns, it will be a wise and good investment.”

Agreeing with HE Dr. Bin Sulaiman’s comments, another panel member said: “If you have liquidity, this is a good time to invest. “Good value will always be good value. Even if the value of your asset goes down in the next one or two years, it will bring benefits in the long term.”..

While acknowledging the fact that the financial crisis has had an impact on the region, speakers urged the family business community to look at the business environment positively.

All panel members felt that the region was well-equipped to weather the global financial storm because of its strong fundamentals. “There is a huge scope for growth. Most of the region’s population is comprised of young people. Demand growth may slow down but there will always be growth,” HE Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman said.

“The quantum of infrastructure spend, current account surplus and the buoyancy of the private sector, in addition to many other factors, indicate that the economy is in good shape,” another panel member pointed out.

“I’m very optimistic about the region. Surpluses from oil revenues were invested in infrastructure and this will pay off,” he added.

Speakers also expressed their views about the global financial crisis and the lessons that can be learned from it. The financial community, they said, underestimated the extent of globalisation and the interconnectedness and interdependence of banks, which led to the global spread of the crisis.

Family businesses were urged against overreacting to the global crisis. “The real problem with the current perception (of the crisis) is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The world today is looking at the crisis negatively. We have worked ourselves into a frenzy. It is important to make a rational and realistic assessment of the situation,” a speaker said.

“Wake up every day in a positive frame of mind,” another panel member said. The crisis is also an opportunity to look at critical issues like corporate governance and enhancing management as well as focusing on training, he added.

Governments around the world, the speakers said, need to take joint action to resolve the crisis. “The crisis will not be solved by the individual actions of governments or banks. Nor will it be resolved by changing investor sentiment. Governments will have to come together and make a concerted effort. The systems and rules will have to be rewritten,” a speaker said.

The DIFC Summit attracted the participation of 75 leading Arab families and their representatives from the Middle East region, including:

  • His Excellency Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman
  • His Excellency Abdulaziz Al Ghurair
  • His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Al Faisal
  • Mr. Essa Al Ghurair
  • Mr. Khalid Kanoo
  • Mr. Khalid Al Zamil
  • Mr. Salah Al Wazzan
  • Mr. Hussein Jawad
  • Mr. Essa Al Serkal

Tomorrow DIFC Week will feature the two-day DIFC Forum, which will see approximately 250 senior executives representing regional and international businesses discussing critical issues for the Gulf economies and the regional financial and business landscape in light of international developments and trends.

Topics to be debated on the opening day of the Forum include the economic outlook for the world and the GCC in 2009, Investing in the Gulf, what it will take to lead the next generation of Islamic finance and women in business in the Gulf. Amongst the high profile figures speaking at today’s event were;

  • Khalid Abdullah-Janahi, Chairman, Ithmaar Bank, Group Chief Executive, DMI
  • HRH Nazrin Shah, Crown Prince of Perak State, Malaysia
  • Peter Barker-Homek, Chief Executive Officer, TAQA – Abu Dhabi National Energy Company
  • Peter Oppenheimer, Partner and Global Strategist, Goldman Sachs
  • Dr Saad Hamad al-Barrak, Managing Director, Deputy Chairman and CEO, Zain Group
  • Sheikha Hanadi Nasser bin Khaled al-Thani, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Nasser bin Khaled & Sons Group and Founder, AMWAL

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 SungardThe 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..

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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