Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of DIFC



Inaugural MENASA Forum to Begin Tomorrow

Conference to discuss a range of vital issues ranging from energy and investment to regulations and Islamic finance

The inaugural edition of the MENASA Forum, a high-level finance and business conference focused on the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, organised by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), is all set to open in Dubai tomorrow (Sunday).

To be held from 23 to 24 May 2010, the invitation-only Forum will bring together 250 members of the regional and international banking and financial services industry, regulators and senior business executives. Under the theme of 'Finance for the Next Decade of Growth', economic and business leaders will discuss the critical opportunities and challenges confronting the region. The event is being held in association with Abraaj Capital and Deutsche Bank and supported by Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Shuaa Capital.

The MENASA Forum promises to stimulate thought-provoking debate from an emerging markets perspective on issues such as regional capital market development, international regulatory changes, infrastructure finance opportunities, Islamic finance challenges, regional energy needs and the changing role of oil in an increasingly diversified global energy mix.

HH Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the President of DIFC said: "The MENASA region has emerged as an important player in global economic growth and has a key role in the transformation of the world's economy. By recognising our interdependence and shared interests and forging greater cooperation, the region can become an even more influential force on the world stage. Dubai and the UAE, by virtue of being a vital hub for financial and trade flows between countries in the region, can play a major part in promoting economic integration in MENASA. I look forward to the discussions at the MENASA Forum on how the region can work together to realise its tremendous economic potential."

HE Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer, Governor of DIFC said: "The strong economic fundamentals of the countries in the MENASA region have enabled them to be resilient to the impact of the global financial crisis. Closer cooperation among MENASA countries can help the region overcome the challenges standing in our way and enable us to take greater advantage of the opportunities arising from our growth. The discussions at the Forum will contribute immensely towards creating a framework for enhancing greater capital flows and integration in trade, investment and finance between MENASA countries."

The Forum will address the major scenarios for short and medium term development of the MENASA region that is home to 29% of the world’s population and produces a total GDP of more than $4.5 trillion. The Forum will also look at some of the critical lessons learned by the economies of the region about regulations; governance; investor protection; financial intermediation and diversification; and the measures needed to renew investor confidence.

Speakers at the event will take a close look at the vast opportunities for private equity and infrastructure investment in a region, which has immense development needs. Discussions will focus on the challenges and impediments facing private capital and project finance.

Islamic finance is another major focus. Speakers will assess the mainstreaming of the industry; the development of Islamic capital markets; issues of transparency and disclosure; the latest innovations and developments in the field; and the prospects for Islamic products in key sectors such as energy and infrastructure and in emerging markets such as Europe.

The debates at the Forum will also bring light on the MENASA’s substantial energy needs, which are set to grow markedly over the next 20-30 years. Leading voices from within and outside MENASA will discuss what the region could achieve, and the commitments and strategies required for global future energy leadership.

The MENASA Forum will also address the vital question of partnerships for sustained growth. A dedicated session will look at some of the challenges brought by the global downturn to the development model underlying the strategies of investment companies. It will also look at how Egypt, Pakistan, and India can improve their prospects for receiving investment from Gulf investors.

The MENASA Forum will officially commence with a high-level keynote address at the welcome dinner, followed by a keynote dialogue with Arif Masood Naqvi, Founder and Group CEO, Abraaj Capital, and Juergen Fitschen, Member of the Management Board, Head of Regional Management Worldwide and CEO, Germany, Deutsche Bank. The dialogue will be moderated by David Gardner, International Affairs Editor, Financial Times, to set the scene for the main discussion forums that commence the following day.

His Excellency Ahmed Al Tayer, will welcome the high-level delegation with a keynote address at the MENASA Forum. The day's agenda will then formally commence with a keynote address by Daniel L Doctoroff, President of Bloomberg LP and former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York, a position he held at a time when he was tasked with leading New York's dramatic economic resurgence following the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

The MENASA Forum will feature a mix of interviews, debates and keynote addresses featuring financial leaders, experts and investors. Generous networking breaks will ensure real opportunities for making new contacts and pursuing business partnerships.

About MENASA

In the MENASA region, the enormous accumulation of sovereign and private wealth, a young and fast-growing population that makes up 29% of the world’s total population, and market liberalisation and regulatory reforms of a region with some US$4.4 trillion in combined GDP are providing the foundation for prospects of sustained growth across this region for decades. The economic integration among the region’s countries is underscored by its growing share in global trade – total external trade in the MENASA region amounted to about US$2.2 trillion in 2009. As a result, MENASA economies are increasingly significant from a global perspective – expanding their share of world GDP, financial liquidity, infrastructure spending and investment.

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