Organized by Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group in partnership with Geneva Financial Center and in cooperation with the Arab-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Swiss Arab Financial Forum was held on April 3rd 2014, in Geneva-Switzerland at the presence of more than 300 participants from Switzerland and the Arab countries, headed by the responsible for multilateral tax issues at the state secretariat for international financial matters in Switzerland H.E. Ambassador Fabrice Filliez; and the president of Geneva financial center Nicolas Pictet, along with a diversified group of major Swiss banks leaders and representatives, leading investors and banking professionals heads, of major companies operating in the fields of investment, banking and trade and wealthy business and investors coming from the Arab world.
The forum was and has featured a phenomenal program with high quality local and regional speakers who addresses up to date issues, focusing on key topics such as: the future of Switzerland for wealth management, Switzerland as a hub for financial know-how and an ideal location for multinational companies headquarters, investment prospects of MENA markets and the role of Switzerland as a hub for commodity trading and finance.
Moreover, the forum was distinguished by its high-level participation and the support of highly-renowned institutions: Bankmed Suisse, The Investors for securities, Arab Bank Suisse, Watamar & Partners, BSI, UBS, BCGE and its media partners L’Agefi and Banque & Finance.
The forum commenced with an opening speech by the deputy CEO of Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal group, Mr. Faysal Abou Zaki, who stated that Switzerland and Swiss banks, especially private banks, have always enjoyed a special standing among Arab high net-worth individuals and many institutions with large sums of investable funds such sovereign wealth funds.
He added that; while the Swiss banking market has been coming under continuous pressure from the US and other European countries regarding the issue of tax and sometimes banking secrecy, Arab individuals especially the wealthy ones have kept business as usual with Switzerland and that indicators prove that Arabs’ business with Swiss banks kept growing since according to Bloomberg, Middle East and North African assets in Switzerland climbed 14% to 560 billion Francs last year.
Abou Zaki then stressed on the fact that Arab-Swiss relations are wider than banking and finance, and they include trade with a volume worth more than $12bn in 2012, tourism with 260,000 Arab visitors to Switzerland in 2013.
He finally concluded that the diversity of interests in the Swiss-Arab relations will be reflected in the next year’s edition where the scope of discussions will be extended to include all aspects of Arab Swiss cooperation.
Following was a highly informative speech by the president of the board at the Arab-Swiss chamber of commerce and industry Prof. Jean-Paul Vulliety, whom confirmed the Swiss Arab financial forum’s role as a unique opportunity to further strengthen links between the two worlds. He also highlighted on the Swiss-Arab chamber of commerce and industry’s role in putting together Arab investors with Swiss firms and banks.
Following, was the opening speech of, the managing director of Geneva Financial center Mr. Edouard Cuendet, who started with an overview on Geneva’s position as a global financial center standing at the 9th rank of the Global financial centers index, and succeeded in being an international hub, by attracting nearly 40 foreign banks that have their Swiss headquarters in Geneva, and being a world leader in the Commodities business, through some 500 trading companies headed in the city and commanding significant market shares in the trading, shipping and financing of the full range of commodities.
Cuendet then added that the Geneva financial industry has not been immune from the turbulences affecting Switzerland or the global markets, and that it had to digest the constant regulatory pressure that banks, especially in the cross-border business.