Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Change in Business and Financial Mentality in Arab World

The Arab world is changing and many of its people are getting to know more and more about stock markets. Few years back, not many Arabs held shares in local stock exchanges but the recent boom in the Arab stock markets, mainly pushed by returns from high oil prices, helped a lot.
We should not forget that business and financial news aired mainly on Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and MSNBC are attracting more viewers. Asharq al-Awsat has a nice article about how business news women are becoming stars.
A friend of mine, who had no idea what the word share meant two years ago, calls twice or three times a week to tell me he bought shares or invested money in local mutual funds. He has been doing well so far despite a major decrease in prices in the past weeks, mainly in Saudi Arabia and UAE.
A Lebanese woman I know told me about her Saudi friend who sold his house for about 200,000 U.S. dollars and put all the money in the stock exchange. I don't know whether he is in the red or the black.
A Saudi friend living in Beirut complained to me yesterday of how she lost money after the prices of the Saudi stocks she bought dropped. "I will hold them. I have stocks in very companies like SABIC and Electricity. They have to rise again," she said clearly appearing unhappy.
Too bad I am one of the Arabs who are not making money in local stock exchanges, or maybe lucky with the recent could-be crash.
Bassem Mroue
Beirut April 23, 2006