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July 16, 2008

Malaysia: Investments from Gulf states to reach $2.8bn by 2018
Malaysia expects to attract 9 billion ringgit ($2.8 billion) of investments from Gulf Arab states in the next 10 years, attracting oil money diverted from the west since Sept. 11, 2001, Reuters quoted officials as saying Tuesday.

Jalilah Baba, the head of Malaysia's investment promotion body MIDA, said the country received 4.5 billion ringgit worth of Gulf investments between 1980 and May this year.

"Based on ... some of the projects already in the pipeline, I'm quite confident that the amount of investment will be much bigger than 4.5 billion ringgit. It could be more than double," Jalilah said.

While Middle East investments in the past have mainly involved the manufacture of basic metal products, the focus now is in oil and gas industries, finance and the halal -- permissible in Islam -- food and services sectors.

Gulf firms which have recently set up operations in Malaysia include Al-Rajhi Bank 1120.SE, Kuwait Finance House  and Qatar Islamic Bank.

A consortium led by Qatar-based Gulf Petroleum Ltd secured approval in April to develop a $5 billion oil and petrochemical complex in Malaysia.

Jalilah was speaking at the signing of an agreement with the Federation of GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Chambers to locate a centre in Kuala Lumpur to support inter-regional trade and investments with the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

Hamad Ali Safran, a senior official from the federation, said "a very high percentage" of money from the Gulf nations has been re-directed to the Asean region since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

The federation represents 760,000 firms from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Oman, which make up the GCC.

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