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Conference to examine MENA opportunities, challenges this week

By Omar Obeidat - Apr 06,2014 - Last updated at Apr 06,2014

AMMAN –– Over 350 investment professionals, policy makers, business leaders and economists will convene on the eastern shores of the Dead Sea on April 9 and 10 to discuss opportunities and challenges facing Middle East and North Africa  (MENA) economies. 

According to organisers of the Fifth Annual CFA Institute Middle East Investment Conference, the two-day event –– with the theme of “Realising our Potential: Investing for Sustainable Growth” –– is scheduled to be under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah. 

Ahead of the conference, CFA Institute, which is the global association of investment professionals, launched the results of its annual Middle East market sentiment survey at a press conference in Amman. 

The institute has surveyed its charter holders and members in the region to see their expectations for the investment climate in MENA, Nitin Mehta, managing director of CFA Institute in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said at the press conference.

Briefing journalists on the top findings of the survey, Mehta indicated that 80 per cent of the surveyed expected their local economies to expand this year, 76 per cent expected their businesses to grow and 67 per cent predicted the global economy to expand. 

Nearly two-thirds of the members also expected an increase in foreign direct investments, initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions, he said. 

However, he noted that the survey showed that respondents believe that positive economic impact from the Arab Spring would be greater over the next five years, adding that respondents expected lower investments this year due to political changes in the region. 

Mehta said that only a small portion of respondents believed that MENA economies are competitive in the global economy. 

Regarding Jordan, the professionals called for improving market integrity, transparency and education as they can help the Kingdom in ensuring long-term sustainable growth. 

The respondents expected Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar to see the strongest economic performance in 2014. 

Jameel Anz, president of CFA Society in Jordan, told The Jordan Times following the press meeting that the regional investment conference will be held in Jordan for the first time, as it used to take place in Gulf countries. 

The gathering will address investments in competitive sectors in Jordan such as the information technology and services, Anz said, adding that bankers, portfolio mangers, representatives from monitoring commissions and policy makers are expected to attend the forum. 

The CFA online survey was conducted between February 23 and March 20 of this year with 1,818 professionals participating in the survey from 12 countries in the region, he said.

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