National Investor CEO to deliver keynote address at Funds World Conference

Dr Karim El Solh to highlight investment opportunities facing the region Dubai: June 13, 2004: Dr Karim Solh, CEO, The National Investor, one of the UAE’s leading investment and advisory firms, is to deliver a keynote address at the forthcoming Fund World Conference.

The conference, which is attracting the leading figures from the regional and global funds industry to discuss the investment prospects and opportunities faced within the Middle East region, is taking place at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel June 14-15th 2004. Other notable speakers include Dr Mohammed Alchaar, Secretary-General, Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI); David Waite, Head of Asset Management, Gulf International Bank (UK) and Dr Hasnita Hashim, Executive VP, Institutional Business, Guidance Financial Group (USA).

Titled “Middle Eastern fund investing – just how good are the opportunities”, Dr Karim’s speech will focus on the reasons why Middle Eastern investors are bringing their capital back to the region and are actively seeking regional investments opportunities, the challenges faced in the investment process, and what are the expected benefits and risks of investing in the region.

Confirming the specific investment opportunities that the GCC capital markets are offering, Dr Karim said: “The Gulf region is going through a phase of strong growth fueled by near-record high oil prices, expanding economies and increasing productivity. In fact, the expected average annual GDP growth for the GCC countries over the next 5 years is an impressive 6.4%. With such an unprecedented sustained growth rate, there will be a number of investment opportunities for investors as this growth trickles down to the private sector and the regional capital markets start reaping the benefits. It is no surprise that Arab investors are quickly repatriating their overseas assets and scanning the region for potential investment opportunities. ”

“The only caution here is that there might a little too much capital chasing too few assets, which might send valuations at stratospheric levels. It is therefore important for both the regional governments and the private sector to open up and offer investment opportunities to the new market entrants. It is also important for regional investment firms such as the National Investor to respond to the market need and introduce in a timely fashion well-structured regional investment products,” he continued.

Describing the objective of the conference, Dr El Solh, said: “The Funds World conference aims to highlight the positive impact new capital market investment trends are having on the Middle East. Over the course of the two day programme, delegates will listen to leading figures in the industry as they discuss investment sentiment across the region.”

Dr El Solh also lauded the efforts by the funds investment industry to embrace conferences that help stimulate discussion and discourse so that leading players can address the needs of the region in pursuing the conditions that will help future investment trends.

“While we acknowledge that foreign direct investment in the region is still relatively small, companies such as The National Investor must play a pivotal role to ensure that the investment environment continues to evolve and the right investment opportunities are made available to regional investors. This is why we have pursued and secured strategic partnerships with global players such as Credit Suisse Asset Management,” Dr. El Solh added.

The Funds World Conference is being held over two days. The first session is being chaired by James Hammond, Executive Vice President, ISI, Emerging Markets, Internet Securities (USA), while the second session will be chaired by Will McSheehy, Editor, Banker Middle East. Highlights will include looking at the potential growth and challenges in the Middle Eastern funds market, an examination of the needs of the Middle East investor in a new investment universe, the Shari’ah fund opportunity, anti money laundering, equity investments, portfolio management and hedge funds.

Notes to Editors

About The National Investor The National Investor is a leading UAE investment and advisory firm with a distinguished track record in fundraising, advisory services, asset management and private equity investments. The Company is backed by over 60 UAE shareholders who come from the highest echelons of the business and political community. NI is actively involved in investment banking, private equity and asset management. The Company is currently ranked as the leading arranger of public share offerings, having lead managed the largest number of public offerings in the UAE to date (with total transaction value exceeding 2.6 billion AED). NI is also actively involved in the local asset management scene, having launched innovative products such as the first Emirates Real Estate Fund. For more information on the National Investor, please visit the Web site at