Gulf businesses see clearer outlook, stay cautious
Dubai, October 29, 2009
From banks to property firms, executives across the Gulf region and Egypt told Reuters they believe the worst of the financial downturn is over, but many warned of more bumps along the way.
'This has been an extraordinary year, things fell off a cliff overnight,' Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, managing director of Abraaj Capital, the Middle East's biggest private equity firm, told the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit this week.
'I don't think we are still in a very pretty place regionally or globally, but there is better visibility.'
The Gulf region's six-year oil boom came to an abrupt end last year as the credit crunch swept the globe and oil prices fell from record peaks of $147 a barrel down to $32 in December.
The liquidity crunch dented the property sector - especially in Dubai, the region's business and tourist hub - while banks across the region were rocked by a debt implosion at Saudi conglomerates Saad Group and Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros.
But a glimmer of stability seems to be returning to the region and beyond.
'We feel that the whole crisis is bottoming,' said Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, adding that some indicators had shown a 'a small but very distinct' change in direction upward.-Reuters