Malaysia could be the next top destination for Arab investors to do business as they are looking forward to redirect their funds to Southeast Asia.

Mohammed Al Rabea, Secretary General of the Council for Arab Economic Unity, The Arab League, told Malaysian news agency Bernama that Arab countries are contemplating moving their funds to safer economies such as Malaysia due to the economic problems in Europe and the US, which have also affected the revenue of Arab countries.

The Secretary General was in Kuala Lumpur to speak at a two-day event, Malaysia Global Business Forum – Strategic Partners – Malaysia and the Arab World, held at the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) on February 21 and 22, 2012. .

He also said that, in reverse, Malaysians would find huge opportunities in the Arab World, at the moment especially in Libya and Qatar.

He added that these countries need companies to undertake construction and infrastructure works. The new government in Libya will need help to carry out reconstruction throughout the country, while Qatar is in the midst of preparations for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Mohammed Al Rabea also encouraged the private sector of Malaysia and the Arab countries to form partnerships and joint ventures.

In addition, he said that Malaysia and the Arab countries should work together towards enhancing halal standards and promoting related products.

“We should develop halal products in the Muslim world. At the same time, we should strengthen the use of halal products in the hospitality industry in the Arab countries,” he said.

Aside from halal products, Middle Eastern investors are also keen to tap into Malaysia’s healthcare industry.

Among those who were present at the event were Malaysia’s Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Arab-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce President Mohamad Radwan Alamis, and Malaysia Global Business Forum Chairman Nordin Abdullah.

In recent years, the amount of investment inflows from the Arab region, especially from the GCC, into Malaysia was growing, with a focus on real estate (shopping malls and hotels), financial services, and healthcare services. In 2011, the trade figure between Malaysia and the Arab region stood at $17.6 billion (RM53.2 billion).

Mohamad Radwan Alamis said he was confident that total trade between Malaysia and Arab countries would exceed $30 billion by 2015.

IJM Construction, WCT Engineering, Eversendai Engineering, and Malaysia Airports Holding are some of the Malaysian companies which have already built strong presence in the Arab region.

The Malaysian government has also introduced 17 service sub-sectors for foreign equity participation last year. This will enable foreign investors to fully own their businesses in telecommunication, private higher education, international schools, and private hospital services sectors.

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