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Middle East investors eye improving business conditions in Saudi Arabia, says survey

The skyline of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is seen at night in this aerial photograph from a helicopter. (AFP)
LONDON: Gulf-based investors said economic diversification in Saudi Arabia and increasing ease of doing business in the Kingdom are top areas of interest for 2018, according to a survey by global investment analysts.
Efforts by the government in Saudi Arabia to improve liquidity are attracting regional and international investors, said respondents to the survey carried out by the CFA Institute in the region.
Regional equities, private equity or venture capital will be the most attractive assets across the Middle East this year, those surveyed by CFA Society Emirates said.
More than two-thirds of respondents (70 percent) said regional geopolitical issues would remain the most significant challenge for the regional investor industry this year. They also also called for greater transparency of investment decisions and improved corporate governance to support growth.
“As our members highlighted in the survey, improving corporate governance is a crucial element in ensuring the sustainable growth of the region’s financial services market since this will put interest the interests of investors first, while aiming to generate returns in an ethical and transparent manner,” said Amer Khansaheb, president of CFA Society Emirates.

Regional investors were also bucking the trend toward increased investment in artificial intelligence (AI) technology to support companies’ internal operations, Khansaheb added, as 70 percent of CFA members reported that their organization was not investing in AI.
“This is despite global trends which suggest that there are increasing levels of AI adoption in investment management due to the cost and efficiency benefits which technology affords,” said Khansaheb.

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