The debate, entitled “The Gulf Region: the new hub of global financial power?”, was attended by an invited group of leading international bankers, economists, regulators and financial professionals. The workshop was hosted by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.
In the last 2-3 years, the GCC region has seen one of the fastest rates of economic growth anywhere in the world. Booming economies and growing wealth have strengthened the GCC countries’ aspirations to develop global capital markets and global corporations. Rising volumes of transactions have made a compelling case for building the financial infrastructure and accelerating the development of new financial instruments and of financial services in general. The Chatham House debate focused around global financial trends and the ability of GCC countries to be recognized as global financial players.
Chatham House was founded in London in 1920 as a forum where politicians, business people, academics and other interested individuals could exchange opinions on a regular and frank basis. A particularly unique feature of Chatham House debates is the “Chatham House Rules”, whereby no statements made by participants are attributed to them, to encourage free and open exchange of ideas and views.
The debate in Doha examined how emerging market economies such as those in the GCC are enlarging the global financial playing field. Measured on a per capita basis, GCC budget surpluses are estimated to be considerably higher than those of China and India. A growing trend is being seen for state owned entities to invest these surpluses in private sector enterprises outside of the region. The debate touched on the issues raised by some recent acquisitions and the political implications of such investment strategies.
The workshop also considered the factors that would determine the success of the GCC as a new global financial hub, such as regulation, opening of labour markets, development of the region’s private sectors and the integration of GCC economies. In addition, speakers identified the challenges in meeting this primary goal, including the need for deeper local currency debt markets and a greater supply of regional financial talent to bolster the financial workforce.
Dr Paola Subacci, Head of the International Economics Programme of Chatham House, said: “We were delighted by the level of acceptances to attend this ground breaking event, and the extremely high quality of contribution to the discussions. Chatham House has received a good deal of demand from its members for more information on what is happening in the financial markets of the Gulf, and I believe our report on this discussion will be received with great interest. We are also planning a series of additional events in the region later this year.”
Stuart Pearce, Chief Executive Officer and Director General of the QFC Authority, added: “A Chatham House debate in Doha signifies a growing international profile that Qatar and the region as a whole is generating, particularly among the international financial community. As the discussions demonstrated, the standards that Qatar is striving for are by no means unrealistic, and according to some measurements are already reaching those found in the world’s leading financial centres. Much remains to be done, but the general view expressed by the very impressive group of international participants assembled by Chatham House is that Qatar is very much on the right track.”
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