Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Policymakers Discuss U.S.-Arab Business

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Policymakers Discuss U.S.-Arab Business

Article excerpt

Day two of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Policymakers Conference, on Oct. 28, began with panels focused on business. Dr. Tamara Wittes, State Department deputy special coordinator for Middle East transitions, and formerly with the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, provided "A View from the U.S. Department of State." She focused on the recent events in Libya and offered a general outlook on U.S. policy in the Middle East this past year.

The first panel, "Business, Investment and Financial Development," was chaired by Michael Markland, vice president for private wealth management at Morgan Stanley in Dubai, and featured self-described "professional bridge builders" in the international finance world.

Ambassador Ford Fraker, senior adviser and chairman for the Middle East and North Africa Group at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP, outlined his experiences during two big "economic booms" in Saudi Arabia, in the late 1970s and again in the late 2000s. "If you were an international business with aspirations for growth internationally and you weren't looking at the market in the Gulf, then you were missing the opportunity of the decade, if not the next three decades," he stated. According to his calculations, said Fraker, who served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2007 to 2009, Riyadh has invested a staggering trillion and a half dollars in new programs in the past 10 years. He strongly encouraged new investors to "buy a ticket and come to the region."

Ambassador Joseph LeBaron, a senior adviser at Patton Boggs, LLP, offered a more somber outlook. …

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