You want us to do what? You’ve got some nerve…

November 3, 2008

A pair of speakers at the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit are less than impressed with the West’s requests that oil-rich Gulf Arab state’s pony up cash to help combat the effects of the global financial crisis. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is the latest to do the rounds in Gulf capitals, after the French trade minister and U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt, who declared the U.S. open to sovereign fund investment last month.

Not so fast, say Gulf players.

“We are not happy with the demands of other states to help them when they cause problems,” Naser al-Nafisi, general manager at Al-Joman-Center for Economic Consultancy, said at the Reuters summit in Kuwait.

But he wouldn’t want Kuwait to be completely ungenerous: “We have our own problem to solve but of course if there is room, why not.”

The take-care-of-your-own sentiment is not unique to Nafisi or Shuaa Securities Chief Executive Mohammed Yasin who spoke at the Summit in Dubai. Probably it is a feeling held by many across the region, who recall that just two years wealth funds from Muslim states were considered a potential security risk. Payback, anyone?

Still, the Gulf has not turned a completely cold shoulder to pleas for help. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have indicated they will contribute to a touted IMF stabilisation fund and other Gulf Arab states will probably follow suit. As Thomas Leaver, chief executive of Dubai Mercantile Exchange, said at the summit:

“Don’t delude yourself into thinking we’re an island and won’t be impacted by what’s happening in the rest of the world.”

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