Middle East Asset Management Forum

The Gulf Hotel, Manama, Bahrain

29 Apr 2019


8:15  Registration 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, while the kingdom has steadily reduced its budget deficit and ratings agencies give the country a stable outlook.

  • How strong an effect does macroeconomic indicators have on Bahrain’s bourse, which in January equalled its highest level since mid-2015?
  • Unlike many emerging markets, Bahrain made gains last year, can Bahrain outperform in the longer term?
  • What are local asset managers’ 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 sectors and 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.

  • Why are regional corporates are increasingly turning to sukuk as means to diversify their sources of funding?
  • What we can expect for sukuk markets in the rest of 2019 as U.S. interest rate rises slow?
  • What more can be done to persuade issuers to opt for sukuk, rather than conventional bonds?


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.

  • Can robo-advisors help increase regional AUM?
  • What impact are the likes of the UAE start-up Sarwa, which offers various funds that charge a fraction of the normal fees, have on the asset management sector?
  • What are the biggest hurdles to more widespread consumer adoption of robo-advisory services?
  • 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?
  • What are banks and other financial institutions doing in response to the threat posed by the new fintech entrants?


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 – could the Gulf 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?
  • How significant could cross-listings be on the Saudi bourse?
  • And what other regulatory reforms could help enhance bourse volumes?


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 further spell in the doldrums as the long-predicted pre-Expo rally fails to materialise due to oversupply and a lack of demand.

  • 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?
  • How are Saudi market reforms helping ease supply-demand imbalances, tackle high land prices and improve affordable housing availability?
  • 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