Rasmala: Ali Al Shihabi talks investment in two cultures
Rasmala was created by one man: Ali Al Shihabi. The firm and its founder encapsulate the cultural fusion for which their home, Dubai, is famed. Dominic O’Neill profiles a company that specializes in the world’s fastest-growing financial market.
"Public markets like to see annuity and fee income, rather than chunky, deal-based revenue"
ALI AL SHIHABI is used to being between civilizations. Sitting opposite Euromoney in a City of London boardroom, the 49-year-old is dressed in a classic grey suit – from Savile Row, perhaps. But back in the Middle East, he wears Arabian robes and headgear. With the world’s financial markets reeling from the sub-prime crisis and a rocketing oil price, one region stands out as an attractive investment destination: the Gulf. Al Shihabi’s visit to London comes at an opportune time.
The firm Al Shihabi founded almost 10 years ago, of which he is still chief executive, is targeting western pension funds, endowments and other financial investors that are beginning to take a serious interest in opportunities in the Arabian oil-producing countries. He wants to attract more of this money, and take a cut. He is already setting up a London-listed exchange-traded fund that will buy into asset management funds in the Gulf.
It is appropriate that Rasmala, Al Shihabi’s baby, should be one of the first firms to do this.