chapter
7 Pages

Introduction

There are some recurring themes that appear in the various chapters. One is that regional financial markets evolve very rapidly. Countries like Bahrain, which at one time was slated to become a major financial center, has seen its quick growth as an international financial service center stagnate under competition from markets aiming to service growing financial markets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. As part of its plan to become a global financial platform for investment banks, stock markets and legal services, Dubai created the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), which has become an outstanding real estate success, but remains little used as a financial center in the traditional sense. Ultimately, the major financial centers of the region have become a magnet for the big money in the region, i.e. Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Even in this proviso, one should add that the centers with the most active financial markets are those with truly sizable populations, namely Riyadh. Indeed, Saudi Arabia, with 21 million local citizens, or four times the amount of citizens living in the rest of the GCC, has a natural advantage since, by and large, people are biased toward investing their money close to home.