Interview: Ahmed Al Sayegh
What is being done to attract international financial institutions in the areas of private banking, wealth management and asset management?
AHMED AL SAYEGH: The various local and regional institutions operating in Abu Dhabi today are already global players in the financial community, with similar needs and demands to their international peers. ADGM aims to provide these institutions with a well-regulated platform, in doing so enabling member companies to conduct transactions within a business-friendly, tax-efficient environment with the support of an internationally recognised legal jurisdiction.
In order to accomplish this, we have formed an expert panel that comprises more than 16 international and regional institutions. All are very keen to participate and help shape the future regulatory regime. Such levels of engagement will be able to ensure that any future regime will provide the necessary protection and support to conduct private banking, asset management and wealth management among other services. In addition to this, the UAE offers high-quality infrastructure and rapidly developing educational, health and cultural environments, making the lifestyle offering an instrumental factor in attracting institutions here.
Given the current outlook regarding capital flows, to what extent is the establishment of a new financial free zone necessary for the region?
AL SAYEGH: As the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is absolutely central to global investment flows and commerce along the West-East corridor, as connections between Abu Dhabi and the rest of the world continue to grow. Abu Dhabi already enjoys a wealth of natural resources, as well as benefitting from political stability and security. These qualities will position ADGM as an ideal hub from which to conduct regional and global business transactions. It will also be able to reach out to the growing economies of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. We have been consulting local and global financial institutions for the past 12 months regarding both our strategy for ADGM and our initial focus on developing ADGM as a financial centre supporting a wide range of financial services. ADGM will be a broad-based financial services centre that will, for the first phase of its development, centre its activities on what it views are Abu Dhabi’s natural strengths of private banking, wealth management and asset management. This core starting point will be a natural centre of gravity that will, over time, pull in new financial services and evolve our offering in line with market requirements. ADGM will be able to adapt to the needs of the market, and will offer new financial services based on existing demand.
Steps such as these will support the growth of the market over time. With regards to the number of financial free zones in the region, having financial centres in close proximity is already a common phenomenon in Europe, North America and Asia. The UAE has grown sufficiently to support two financial centres, and ADGM will make its own contribution as a broad-based financial services centre.
How can the regulatory regime be changed to facilitate the free movement of businesses and capital between major global financial centres?
AL SAYEGH: The free movement of businesses and capital is very important to us given the global nature of the financial institutions that we are trying to attract to ADGM. We have developed a draft regulatory framework that draws from the experience of similar jurisdictions from around the world. We have also appointed experienced managers who have brought a diverse range of private and public sector experience with them to advise ADGM on the development of its regulatory framework. Together, they will be able to construct an efficient and successful financial centre in Abu Dhabi that is truly aligned with the world’s best regulatory regimes.
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