Archive | Finance and Economy



Oxford Business Group’s publication provides detailed analysis of banking

sector’s performance

3177Abu Dhabi, 28 January 2015: The key part that Abu Dhabi’s financial institutions are

playing in driving the emirate’s long-term economic development plans will be explored in a forthcoming report to be produced by the global publishing firm, Oxford Business Group (OBG).

The Report: Abu Dhabi 2015 will provide detailed analysis of the sector’s performance, with a particular focus on the ‘big five’ lenders, who all recorded net profits and increased lending last year. There will

be in-depth coverage of the contribution that Abu Dhabi’s banks are making to the emirate’s major

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borders, with the growing economies of West Africa and East Asia proving to be choice destinations.

The big lenders’ expansion strategies are also a focal point of OBG’s latest Economic Update on the emirate. The update, which can be found on the Group’s website, mulls the potential that the established cities and expanding hubs in the West-East corridor hold for Abu Dhabi. It also considers how the emirate’s lenders performed in the first half of 2014.

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) has once again signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on research with OBG for its

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latest report on the emirate’s economy. Under the MOU, OBG will have access to the bank’s resources to compile the Banking Chapter of The Report: Abu Dhabi 2015.

NBAD’s Group CEO Alex Thursby said the bank’s renewed partnership with OBG came at a time of significant activity across Abu Dhabi’s economy, and the emirate’s banking

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sector in particular. “The banks are playing a pivotal role in supporting Abu Dhabi’s efforts to develop key sectors identified as ripe for growth under the government’s economic diversification strategy,” he said. “We look forward to exploring the latest developments in the sector with Oxford Business Group and contributing once again to its research.”

OBG’s Managing Editor Oliver Cornock agreed that Abu Dhabi’s banking sector was proving to be a key

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“While competition is fierce across Abu Dhabi’s banking industry, especially in the retail segment, the UAE’s strong fundamentals and strategic location have enabled the emirate’s lenders to identify innovative ways of expanding, which make for interesting analysis,” he said. “Our longstanding partnership with NBAD, which is now in its

seventh year, will highlight the significance of these and other developments, while considering how they dovetail with Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030’s objectives.”

The Report: Abu Dhabi 2015 will be a vital guide to the many facets of the emirate, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and

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other sectoral developments. The publication will feature

interviews with a broad range of leading personalities.

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The report will be available in print or online. The Report: Abu Dhabi 2015 will be published in early 2015 and will be available for pre-order.

Posted in Banking, Corporate & Business, Finance and EconomyComments (0)

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare sector in Jafza records 29% growth

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare sector in Jafza records 29% growth

4169The pharmaceutical and healthcare sector in Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), the flagship free zone of Dubai and the UAE, has seen robust growth consistently in the last several years.

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The sector generated trade worth AED 10.1 billion in 2013 posting an impressive increase of over 29 per cent over the trade it

generated in the preceding year. The Free Zone expects similar growth in

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Jafza will be participating in

the Arab Health 2015, which is going to be held from January 26-29 in Dubai, and will be highlighting rapidly expanding opportunities in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector in the region and the Free Zone’s key offerings as the hub to serve these markets most efficiently, at the exhibition.

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focus of governments in the region on the betterment of healthcare infrastructure and facilities and rapid increase in the healthcare spending opens huge opportunities not only for pharmaceutical and healthcare companies but also companies engaged in developing healthcare infrastructure. Jafza participation in the Arab Health aims at highlighting the huge prospects for global healthcare majors in the region and underlines the position of Jafza as the hub for multinationals to serve the diverse needs of these markets efficiently. The Free Zone seeks to attract more companies interested in the region to join the Free Zone’s

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Jafza is home to more than 270 leading multinationals in the pharmaceutical and healthcare

sectors including Johnson & Johnson, Roche Group, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Quest Vitamins, Carl Zeiss, Nihon Kohden, Sodexo and GE Healthcare among others.

Arab Health is the second largest

healthcare exhibition and congress in the world and the largest in the Middle East.

Posted in Corporate & Business, Finance and Economy, HealthcareComments (0)

Al Ansari Exchange inaugurates new branches in UAE as part of its expansion strategy

Al Ansari Exchange inaugurates new branches in UAE as part of its expansion strategy

4168Al Ansari Exchange, a UAE-based foreign exchange and worldwide money transfer company, has announced the opening of new branches in the UAE in line with its

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more than 150 branches in the country.

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The company plans to open more branches in strategic locations in the UAE in 2015 which aligns well with its growth strategy in the coming years.

The newly opened Al Ansari Exchange branches are distributed in Abu

Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al

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Khaimah and Fujairah. The new branches in Abu Dhabi are located at Yas Mall, Deerfields Town Square,

and Al Raha Mall, while those in Dubai are in TECOM and Arabian Ranches; in addition to Bay Avenue in Business Bay; Al Fahidi in Bur Dubai; and Oasis Center at Sheikh Zayed Road. The other three branches are at

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locations and new communities to provide seamless money exchange and remittance services. We are confident that the new branches will add significant value to Al Ansari Exchange and increase its market share as well as its customer base.”

Posted in Corporate & Business, Finance and EconomyComments Off

Saadiyat Development and Investment Company Chooses Yardi Voyager 7S

Saadiyat Development and Investment Company Chooses Yardi Voyager 7S

445Saadiyat Development and Investment Company (SDIC) is anticipating significant expansion of its portfolio with a new commercial and residential property in the United Arab Emirates’ Saadiyat Island. They have selected Yardi Voyager® 7S as its new property management and accounting platform for Hidd Al Saadiyat the luxurious villa portion of its portfolio. Yardi Voyager 7S is a browser-independent and a mobile-enabled Software as a Service platform.

SDIC will have access to real-time financial and operational data with Yardi Voyager 7S, which works with all Internet browsers and is also tablet-compatible. “Yardi Voyager provides us with a standardised technology platform that will support our entire real estate life cycle,” stated Ali Yassin, finance director at SDIC. “Instead of using multiple disparate systems to manage investments, construction, sales, property and facilities management we will be able to streamline processes across our entire operation through a single solution.”

SDIC will enhance key business operations by integrating new products into Yardi Voyager 7S. One of them is Yardi Advanced Budgeting & Forecasting™, an automated solution that delivers accurate budget projections for revenue and expenses using tenant lease data drawn from Yardi Voyager 7S. SDIC will also adopt Yardi Construction Management™, which will improve cost control and budget oversight by automatically tracking SDIC’s construction job costs and comparing them to the job budget.

“We are pleased to welcome SDIC as the most recent company to adopt Voyager 7S and operate more efficiently by performing multiple business operations within a single platform. The selection further demonstrates Yardi’s dedication to supplying solutions that meet the complex needs of mixed-use managers in the Middle East,” said Neal Gemassmer, vice president of international for Yardi.

Posted in Corporate & Business, Finance and EconomyComments (0)

How the GCC is poised to become a global meetings hub

How the GCC is poised to become a global meetings hub

417GCC countries are in an excellent position to become a global meetings hub because of their growing trade activity, central geographical location, and increasing status as prospecting spots for business travellers, a report said.

The meetings sector as one of the most lucrative niches within the tourism industry since business people who travel to a country to attend a trade show or conference tend to spend far more than other travellers, added the study by management consultancy Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), a global management consulting arm of assurance and management consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A country that positions itself as a good place for large-scale meetings, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) can attract a high volume of foreign business visitors.

The study reveals that currently, only about 5 percent of travellers in any given year fall into the meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) category, also known as meetings tourism market.

Travellers in the MICE category are seen spending more than other tourists, staying at the luxury hotels where meetings often take place and dining at expensive restaurants, making them more desirable customers. MICE tourists account for about $11 of every $100 that tourists spend — a disproportionately high figure compared to the 5 percent of tourist arrivals they represent.

The study highlights the steady progress that GCC has made as a destination for business travel. Total business-tourist arrivals reached around 10million in 2012, representing a 5 percent annual growth from 2009. The proportion of business tourists as a whole is higher — probably closer to one-third of all tourist arrivals. This validates the fact that business travellers in the GCC represent an unusually high percentage of total tourist arrivals compared to the rest of the world.

Richard Shediac, senior partner with Strategy &, said : “Despite the potential of the meetings market, most emerging economies have not developed a good understanding of this part of the tourism industry, nor do they have a well-considered strategy for getting a larger share of the pie.”

“These gaps have contributed to a situation in which emerging markets like GCC lag far behind the West in terms of MICE market share. Only about 2 percent of all the exhibitions in the world take place in the Middle East, and only about 4 percent take place in South America. By contrast, Europe and North America, combined, are home to more than 80 percent of the world’s exhibitions, according to the most recent data.

“However, this imbalance presents an opportunity for emerging markets including the GCC to attract a large share of MICE business, if they improve their tactics in the meetings market,” added Shediac.

Understanding the MICE Tourism ecosystem

According to the study, for GCC countries to tap into opportunities in the meetings market, it is important for government and policy makers to have a clear understanding of the MICE tourism ecosystem, which comprises of four parts:

The first is the basic set of MICE products and a clear economic strength that is likely to attract MICE tourists to a country. MICE tourism tends to be often correlated with the level of trade in a country and built around a country’s trade and economic activities. Regions looking to increase their MICE-related tourism need meeting-worthy facilities such as convention or exhibition centres, hotel meeting spaces, or unconventional venues like museums, historic buildings, or universities.

The second consists of MICE services, both core and ancillary. Core services consist mainly of intermediaries such as professional congress organizers (PCOs) - firms that arrange meetings for international associations and destination management companies (DMCs) that bid for meetings, plan events and handle on-site logistics.

The third part is composed of the MICE sector-enablers, which refer to a variety of different factors involving planning, marketing, sales and research. Planning represents a particularly important factor as countries usually tie their MICE plans to their long-term national tourism strategy.

The ecosystem’s fourth element is system enablers which refer to a nation’s handling of security, health and safety, environmental sustainability, and infrastructure. These enablers are important to a country’s overall ability to compete for international business.

GCC’s MICE strengths

Antoine Nasr, principal at Strategy&, said:  “Among the GCC countries, the UAE is seen to have the most robust MICE business. The country has transformed itself into the region’s most important travel hub and this is evident with the Dubai international airport recently surpassing Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport. The UAE also provides an increasing range and quality of leisure offerings which has enhanced the country’s popularity as a place for meetings.”

GCC countries have five major competitive advantages as MICE destinations which include: (i) central geographic location; (ii) considerable trade activity and expanding economic and corporate bases; (iii) stable political systems; (iv) a host of emerging ancillary services (such as restored ancient sites and rapidly improving museums); (v) new and technologically advanced meeting facilities that can host sizable gatherings.

Roadblocks to GCC’s emergence as a meeting hub

The study outlines a few challenges that are hindering the GCC’s ability to emerge as a meetings destination.

These include:  (i) a higher concentration of MICE tourists from other GCC countries which limit the possibility of longer stays; (ii) a limited market for congresses (the exchanges of ideas organised by international associations) due to inadequate local participation in such associations; (iii) lack of unconventional venues; (iv) lack of internationally active intermediaries like the PCOs and DMCs; (v) poor public transportation systems which impacts accessibility to the venues; (vi) most GCC countries do not provide ancillary leisure products with the exception of UAE and Oman.

“In addition to these problems, there are more systemic issues linked to sector-system enablers, such as the difficulty of obtaining visas in the GCC. Of the 140 countries analyzed by the World Economic Forum study on Travel & Tourism Competitiveness, all GCC countries except the UAE were in the bottom-quartile in terms of the restrictiveness of its visa policies,” added Nasr.

Capturing MICE market share

“Despite the start that some GCC countries have made with their MICE initiatives, they can do more to deepen their involvement in this lucrative tourism subsector. Many of the challenges are amenable to policy changes and may disappear in the face of better practices. It is therefore, important to use a structured approach that will allow the GCC to develop the great potential of its meetings tourism business and win a greater share of the meetings market,” added Shediac.

The study suggests the use of a three-step approach which includes: (i) assessing the MICE tourism ecosystem; (ii) forging a strategy to win more MICE business; and (iii) developing a governance model for MICE tourism efforts.

“If GCC countries are able to follow this approach and do things faster and skilfully, the region’s meetings business will see a sharp increase in the next few years,” concluded Shediac

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4134King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) is proceeding to prepare the Industrial Valley-phase two land plots in continuation of phase one that is linked to King Abdullah Port. This is happening via granting expert contractors ensuring a comprehensive infrastructure and sophisticated services that meet all the requirements of the industrial companies looking to invest in the Industrial Valley. Work has actually commenced on the ground and it is expected that the prepared land plots will be will be delivered to investors within 12 months.

Mr. Fahd Al-Rasheed, Group CEO and Managing Director of King Abdullah Economic City, expressed his satisfaction with the rapid pace of the sales and leasing processes for lands in the Industrial Valley, which indicates the trust of local and international investors in the promising opportunities offered.

Al-Rasheed say; “KAEC Industrial Valley is considered as the premier global destination for industries in the region due to the advanced infrastructure and integrated logistics services, together with its direct connection with King Abdullah Port, the Haramain Railway and the Saudi land bridge, a unique combination of transportation facilities that enable investors to establish a distribution network accessing the largest market in the region.”

Mr. Al-Rasheed added that the city has already completed the processing of a number of industrial land plots which will be available for delivery during the month of January next year, all of which will be fully equipped with the necessary requirements in accordance with international standards.

Mr. Rayan Qutub, CEO of the Industrial Valley in King Abdullah Economic City, explained that investors in land of the Industrial Valley phase two will benefit from the numerous service facilities available through specialized districts, such as the gas district that will be developed to provide natural gas for specific industries, and the technology Park that is master planned to host tier2 plus data centers, and which providing the ideal infrastructure and environment for innovation. Affirming KAEC’s success in attracting investors to the Industrial Valley, Mr. Qutub stated: “To date we have signed agreements with more than 80 national and global leaders focusing on six industrial sectors: pharmaceuticals, consumer foodstuffs/FMCG, logistics, plastics, building materials and automotive”

The Industrial Valley extends over an area of 55 million square meters, which constitutes nearly one-third of the total area of King Abdullah Economic City. It is capable of accommodating 2000 industrial facilities, making it one of the key drivers of the Saudi economy. The second phase occupies an area of 20 million square meters, and the land plots are available as freehold or by lease.

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Shoura refers birth control issue to king after a second no vote

Shoura refers birth control issue to king after a second no vote

4130The Shoura Council on Monday decided to present a controversial population control policy document, prepared by the government, to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah after it was rejected twice by the 150-member strong consultative body.

“We will attach the content of the Shoura discussions on the issue and the result of the vote of this session and the previous one,” said Mohammed Al-Amr, secretary-general of the council following a meeting chaired by Abdullah Al-Asheikh, president of the Shoura Council.

The Shoura law mandates that decisions are passed on the basis of the majority vote. “If a resolution is not passed by the majority, it is floated again in the next session, and failing that, it is passed to the king to give his opinion,” Al-Amr said.

The Shoura Council has been debating the issue of birth control prepared by the Ministry of Economy and Planning for the past three months.

The council voted on the recommendations by the committee, with 58 members in favor of the amendments and 64 in opposition. In a subsequent vote on the document, 70 members voted in favor while 50 opposed them. However, the vote failed to achieve the minimum 76 votes needed to ensure approval.

Saudi economists have emphasized the need for population control to preserve the country’s economic resources. “Families have to apply birth control in order to reduce expenses and provide better education and facilities to their children,” said Fadhel Al-Bouainain, an economist. He described the Kingdom’s population growth as the highest in the world.

He said birth control was essential to reduce pressure on the country’s infrastructure, especially health, education and housing. “Birth control should be a strategic objective,” he said.

According to the latest census, the Kingdom’s population has reached nearly 20 million translating into a doubling of the population during the last 15 years.

“If the population grows at this rate, it would become one of the major hurdles in the way of the country’s economic growth,” Al-Bouainain said.

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to invest USD 91 billion over 10 years to stimulate petrochemical industry

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to invest USD 91 billion over 10 years to stimulate petrochemical industry

4110The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has experienced a robust growth in its economy in recent years with a growth of around 4 per cent anticipated for the financial year 2014-2015. The country has diversified its business interest to various other sectors in a bid to lessen its reliance on its oil-based economy. However, KSA is determined to maintain its leading position as one of the largest producers of petrochemicals and is aiming to achieve a production capacity of over 100 million tons per annum by 2015. It has earmarked USD 91 billion to be spent over the next 10 years to build new plants and expand existing ones and integrate refineries with new or existing petrochemical units.

In order to sustain this expansion, KSA has created lucrative business opportunities in its plastic and petrochemical industries. In fact, it is the only GCC state to allow private investment in the petrochemical sector with several incentives such as affordable energy, low cost raw materials, and advanced industrial infrastructure, especially in Yanbu. This has led to growth in Saudi plastics and petrochemicals from less than USD 0.5 billion in 1985 to USD 22 billion in 2011. To further throw the spotlight on KSA’s two primary economic sectors, the Riyadh Exhibition Company will organize Saudi Plastics and Petrochem – the 12th International Plastics and Petrochemicals Trade Fair in Jeddah in 2015.

Accredited by UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibitions Industry, Saudi Plastics and Petrochem 2015 will be held from March 1 to 3, 2015 at the Jeddah Center for Forums and Events to highlight cutting edge technologies and products in petrochemicals and plastics sectors. Organizers confirmed the participation of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) as the Diamond sponsor along with Rabigh Refining & Petrochemical Co. (Petro Rabigh) as the Gold Sponsor.

The exhibitors will get an opportunity to showcase their solutions and services to a broad audience comprising diplomats and high-ranking government officials, industrialist and manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers, industrial engineers, and purchasing and operations managers, to name a few. Saudi Plastics and Petrochem 2015 will be held concurrently with Saudi Print and Pack 2015 – the 12th International Trade Exhibition for Printing and Packaging Technologies.

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First Finance Company wins 2 prizes at the Islamic Business & Finance Awards 2014

First Finance Company wins 2 prizes at the Islamic Business & Finance Awards 2014

472First Finance Company (FFC), a subsidiary of Barwa Bank Group, was recognised as both the “Best Retail Finance Company in the Middle East” and the “Best Corporate Finance Company in the Middle East” at the Islamic Business & Finance Awards 2014, in a ceremony held at the Jumeirah Emirates Hotel in Dubai.

Ms. Aisha Al Hudaifi, Head of the Ladies Section at FFC, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

In a statement issued by FFC, the institution commented on the importance of the recognition:

“This recognition further cement FFC’s positioning as a market leader in Qatar and across the region. Our approach is simply to empower our clients in turning their ideas into concrete realities which as a financing institution means seamless processes, flexible payment terms, and innovative solutions are what we offer.”

These awards were established by CPI Financial in 2005 to recognise the best performing institutions in a variety of regions where Islamic finance is either already developed or is rapidly expanding.

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NBAD-CNBC panel on Future of Energy concludes in Kuala Lumpur

NBAD-CNBC panel on Future of Energy concludes in Kuala Lumpur

467The National Bank of Abu Dhabi, NBAD, the Middle East’s leading bank, and CNBC, the leading business and financial news network, hosted a panel of leading energy experts to discuss the future of energy for Asia, in Kuala Lumpur on 15 December.

The panellists agree that low oil price is a short-term concern and the demand will grow in the medium-to-long term. They highlighted that oil production is no longer cheap and the high funding costs of some producers.  They also agree that low oil prices represent a good opportunity to many governments to de-subsidise energy and make the necessary economic reforms.

The expert panel discussed how the fastest growing economies in the West-East corridor, which stretches from West Africa to East Asia, will finance future energy projects, both fossil fuel and renewable. They reached a conclusion that investment opportunities in this super region are ample, and commercially-sound projects will attract investors and financing. Marc Mollema, Global Head of Energy & Resources at NBAD referred to Shams 1 inAbu Dhabi, which is one of the world’s largest concentrated solar power projects, as an example of innovative projects that have secured financing.

The panellists discussed the growing dependence on sustainable energy resources in many parts of the world, and particularly in the West East Corridor economies, noting the increase in demand for both fossil and renewable resources to fuel the growth of these economies. They added that high growth economies in emerging markets such as India would take on different kinds of energy resources to meet the growth demands over the medium to long term.

The panel, “The Future of Energy; West East Corridor”, was convened at a time when Asia is at the centre of the changing global energy landscape, with Asia expected to account for 88% of the growth in global oil demand to 2035 (source: OPEC).

The expert panel comprised Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, CEO of the Institute of Strategic & International Studies; Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit, CEO of Sarawak Energy; Anthony J. Jude, Chairman of The Asian Development Bank’s Energy Committee; and Marc Mollema, Global Head of Energy & Resources at NBAD. Lisa Oake, CNBC seasoned news anchor, moderated the session.

Alex Thursby, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NBAD said, “Lower oil prices will boost trade and consumer spending which, in the medium term, will stimulate economic growth, particularly among emerging markets that are net importers of oil.  It will also allow some governments to address the distortion caused by fuel subsidies.

“The UAE has worked hard to successfully diversify its economy by developing its non-oil sectors which now accounts for nearly 65% of GDP.  Lower oil prices may raise short-term speculation over the ability of some governments to maintain their spending programmes, but the UAE economy is very resilient and the medium term outlook remains strong”.

Susan Yuen, NBAD’s Asia CEO and Country Head of Malaysia said, “Our speakers presented a wide-angled perspective on challenges for fossil fuel, renewable energy, financing opportunities, energy sustainability and the impact of urbanisation on both demand and supply of energy for the future”.

“I believe the panel discussion was thought provoking and laid the foundations for the Global Financial Markets Forum (GFMF), taking place in Abu Dhabi in March 2015.”

“The Future of Energy; West East Corridor” was the first in a series of events taking place around the world as part of NBAD’s Global Financial Markets Forum (“GFMF”); the next Global Financial Markets Series events will be held in London in February 2015 and will explore the potential for Islamic finance. This will be followed by an event in Mumbai in June 2015.

In just six years, the GFMF has evolved to become the premier annual financial markets conference in the MENA region, attracting over 1,300 delegates from around the world to Abu Dhabi. In recent years, GFMF has hosted highly-distinguished speakers from all over the world, including Dr Ben Bernanke, Dr Larry Summers, James Baker, Nicholas Sarkozy, David Millibad, Jean-Claude Trichet, Niall Ferguson, Paul Volcker, Axel Weber, Dr. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, His Excellency Sheikh Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and His Excellency Nasser Ahmed Al Sowaidi.

The 2015 GFMF, to be held in Abu Dhabi on 1-2 March, will continue to showcase a high-calibre mix of regional and international speakers, facilitating thought-provoking discussions both on and off stage. The forum will be covered extensively by CNBC, who will be broadcasting live from their on-site studio at the Emirates Palace.

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