For the Mena region and particularly for the GCC, the lessons are very clear - greater regional economic integration requires investment in regional infrastructure namely in rail, road, oil and gas.
The World Bank estimates that the Middle East needs approximately $100 billion worth of infrastructure investments per year for the next 15 years. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector investment arm of the World Bank Group, invested $3 billion in the region in 2013.
FDI inflows in MENA remain heavily concentrated in the real estate, mining, and oil and gas sectors, he notes, while the manufacturing sector, which is central to job creation, attracts only around 20% of inflows.
The brightest spot in the region for both FDI and project finance opportunities is the GCC, which has been on a stable recovery path. Most of the Middle East’s FDI by number of projects, value and jobs created in the past decade went to the GCC countries.
Additional challenges include large infrastructure gaps, low access to finance and a lack of adequate regional and global integration.