Western political and economic leaders, seeking desperately needed capital for their faltering economies, have put aside many of their concerns over Arab sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). But the Arab world is questioning the wisdom of building its financial future on the shaky foundations of Western economies, and increasingly focusing on the development and diversification of its own economies.

In this Carnegie Paper, produced in cooperation with the Arab Reform Initiative, editors Sven Behrendt and Bassma Kodmani, and a group of Arab economists, discuss the economic, political, and social influences that will determine Arab funds’ investment behavior in the years to come.

Key points:

  • Arab investment in strategic industries in Western countries will become increasingly cautious and selective.
  • The Arab public is demanding more accountability and transparency from SWF managers, which will drive them also to invest in tune with the political sentiment in their countries.
  • Arab foreign investments should complement domestic economic development and diversification agendas. They should develop a clear understanding of the markets that they seek to serve and adjust their foreign acquisition strategy accordingly.
  • Arab fund managers should not scale back efforts to make their funds more transparent in light of reduced international pressure. As the G20 process indicates, all stakeholders in the global financial architecture would benefit from efficient and transparent global markets.
  • Western political and economic leaders need a new sense of partnership and understanding for the development needs of the Arab world to attract Arab fund investments into their industries.

Behrendt concludes:

“Moving forward, the investment strategies of Arab SWFs will most likely be based on a more holistic approach. Ideally, this would include taking into account the long-term financial needs of their societies, the long-term development and diversification strategies of their economies, as well as the long-term opportunities of select industries to serve in global markets in transition.”