Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar: Three hubs to serve a thriving market
Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar are vying to be the Gulf’s financial hub and the battle is by no means over, with each centre adopting a very different approach.
It has long been accepted that the Gulf needs a financial hub. It’s an increasingly important market on a world scale, oil and sovereign wealth make it more relevant than ever, and it fits naturally within the European and Asian trading blocs. But the Gulf has not one potential hub, but three.
For 30 years this was Bahrain’s unquestioned role. "When I worked in Bahrain in 1982 there was no question it was the centre of finance in the Middle East," recalls Daniel Smaller of Algebra Capital. Linked to Saudi Arabia by a causeway, and barely an hour’s flight from Kuwait, it benefited from the relative difficulty of accessing those far bigger markets directly, and acted as a convenient and well-regulated hub for those wanting to do business in or with the region.