Middle East Asset Management Forum

The Gulf Hotel, Manama, Bahrain

29 Apr 2019


8:15 Registrations and Networking


9:00  Welcome Address: Global Investor Group



9:10  Keynote Address: Central Bank of Bahrain



9:30  Bahrain’s bourse is bullish amid steady economic growth, what opportunities does this provide local asset managers? 
Bahrain’s economy is forecast to grow 2.6% in 2019, which would be its 22nd consecutive year of economic expansion (according to the IMF),
while the kingdom has steadily reduced its budget deficit to 11% of GDP in 2018, from 14% in 2017 and 18% in 2018, and ratings agencies
give the country a stable outlook.

These positive macro indicators have boosted domestic stocks, with Bahrain’s bourse in January equalling its highest level since mid-2015.
Unlike many emerging markets, Bahrain made gains last year and a bullish start to 2019 bodes well for local asset managers.

What are their preferred sectors and why? And to what extent is Bahrain decoupled from global and emerging market trends?



10:10  After a tumultuous 2018 on oil markets and Gulf bourses, what now for the region’s asset management sector? 
Global economic uncertainty seems to be spurring wealthy Gulf investors to bring some of their money closer to home,
repatriating funds to invest in undervalued regional equities. What are asset managers doing to woo clients? What are their preferred sectorsand why?
And what more could the industry be doing to significantly expand AUM? 

How is "Nitaqat” in Saudi Arabia – which is designed to encourage companies to employ Saudi nationals – affecting financial services in the kingdom
and how significant are the recent changes to the way this is calculated? Similarly, how is VAT affecting the industry in UAE and Saudi,
since its introduction in 2018? And what can Bahrain, which introduced VAT on Jan.1, learn from the experiences of its neighbours?



10:50  Coffee and Networking Break



11:30  Fixed income outlook, with a focus on sukuk. Sharia-compliant debt issuance fell last year from 2018’s all-time high as a rebound in oil prices reduced
Gulf sovereigns’ borrowing needs. Yet regional corporates are increasingly turning to sukuk as means to diversify their sources of funding, so what we can expect
for sukuk markets in the rest of 2018 as U.S. interest rate rises slow?



12:10  Robo-advisors – opportunity or threat?
Mutual fund penetration in the Gulf is very low versus developed markets despite the region’s abundant wealth. This in part due to the high
expat population, which appears reluctant to invest locally. Could robo-advisors help change that?

In the UAE, for example, homegrown start-up Sarwa offers various funds that charge a fraction of the normal fees and which are guaranteed
by the US government up to $500,000.

Will fintech companies cannibalise revenues from conventional fund managers or could robo-advisors significantly expand regional AUM and acquire
customers that otherwise would not consider investing in mutual funds?



12:40  Focus on regulation – the likes of the CBB and Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority have made great strides in improving and strengthening
market regulations. What are the most pressing tasks for regulators to further enhance supervision and enforcement?

Ever-closer economic and political ties between the likes of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE offer the potential for cross-border financial services –
what are the prospects for this Gulf bloc to introduce EU-style “passporting” regulations that would allow, for example, a Bahrain-registered asset manager
to sell products in the UAE without the need for a licence in the destination country?



13:20  Lunch



14:20 Real estate outlook – Returns from Bahrain’s retail and hospitality sectors are outperforming residential real estate, while the UAE’s once-buoyant
property market seems set for a prolonged spell in the doldrums as the long-predicted pre-Expo rally fails to materialise due to oversupply and a lack of demand.

In Saudi, the market also remains soft, but government reforms are seen making progress in terms of easing Supply-demand imbalances,tackling high land prices
and improving affordable housing availability. What is the investor outlook for Gulf real estate? Where should institutional and individual investors consider buying
and what types of real estate investments are likely to outperform?

Saudi has also seen a flood of REIT listings, but in other Gulf market there are few REIT options for investors – what are the prospects of Gulf REITs becoming
a major alternate asset classes and what is the main challenges/opportunities relating to them? 



15:00  Close of Conference





Event Partner

Central Bank of Bahrain




The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is a public corporate entity established by the 2006 CBB and Financial Institutions Law. It succeeded the Bahrain Monetary Agency, which had previously carried out central banking and regulatory functions since its establishment in 1973. 

The CBB inherits the BMA's 33-year track record and wide range of responsibilities, including the implementation of the Kingdom's monetary and foreign exchange policies. The CBB also manages the government's reserves and debt issuance, issues the national currency and oversees the country's payments and settlement systems. It is the 
sole regulator of Bahrain's financial sector, covering the full range of banking, insurance, investment business and capital markets activities.

The CBB's wide scope of responsibilities allows a consistent policy approach to be undertaken across the whole of the Kingdom's financial sector. It also provides a straightforward and efficient regulatory framework for financial services firms operating in Bahrain.


Media Partners


 أرقام الاستثمارية هي شركة سعوديه متخصصة في تزويد و نشر البيانات و المعلومات 
المالية و الاقتصادية التي تهم المستثمرين وصناع القرار في السوق السعودي كانت
البداية في  عام 2007 ، ومنذ ذلك الحين وأرقام تقوم بدور ريادي في رفع مستوى
الوعي الاستثماري وتعزيز شفافية الاسواق ، من خلال توفير المعلومات الصحيحة و 
الدقيقة بالشكل المناسب في الوقت المناسب للمستثمرين و صناع القرار

تعتبر بوابة أرقام الوجهه الأولى للباحثين عن المعلومات المالية والتحليلات الاقتصـادية
الدقيقة والمتعلقـة بالشـركات المدرجة في أسـواق الأسـهم السعودية.

Argaam Investment Company is Saudi Arabia's leading provider of financial news and intelligence. The company was incorporated in Saudi Arabia in 2007.
Since then, it has played a leading role in raising investment awareness and improving market transparency in the Kingdom and beyond.

Accurate news reporting, objective coverage and insightful analysis of markets have become the cornerstones of the Argaam's brand, since inception.




Gulf Hotel Bahrain

Building 11 Road No 3801