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  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Ambition is high. Just a few years ago, the claim that the Gulf represented an important financial centre, let alone an aspiring Global Financial Centre (GFC), would have been seen as optimistic. However, it should be recalled that in the late 1990s, and even up until 2003, few analysts expected oil prices to move above the $20–30 range–yet by early 2008 oil was trading well above $100 and rising. The GCC economies have approximately tripled in size in just five years and their combined GDP will be well above $1 trillion in 2008, while their external financial wealth in the form of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and foreign exchange reserves alone is more than double this figure. These trends are not, of course, uncorrelated. Nevertheless, it is easy to see the region's comparative advantage from the swing in oil prices, whereas the scope for developing a significant advantage in global finance remains tentative. To develop and mature the Global Financial Centre concept will require considerable effort and nurturing, chiefly by GCC governments, banks and fund managers but including cooperative ventures with leading GFCs and financial services companies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries