Middle East and North Africa – a Thousand and One Opportunities and Perils

When one thinks about doing business in the Middle East and North Africa, what usually comes to mind is petroleum and traditional industries – not sophisticated financial trading. Moreover, those who were contemplating the prospects of engaging with the local trading industry were reluctant to do so.

An old Arab proverb says: “Wealth comes like a turtle, and runs away like a gazelle.” This was considered to be the popular notion regarding the financial industry in the region. Getting money from the end user was not an easy task – due to the hardships of marketing and the relatively poor standard of living. As for keeping the money, this was complex as well. The political and security unrest led to extensive uncertainty, both in the markets and with regard to property rights.


The situation, however, is more complex. On the one hand, the Arab Spring (or perhaps a cold winter) has virtually destroyed some countries (like Syria and Libya). Other countries, like the Gulf States, have been severely affected by sinking oil prices.

On the other hand, the popularity of the MENA region as a retail trading destination is constantly growing. This trend comes as part of the general increase in interest in the developing markets and the declining interest in the more classical Western markets. For instance, in our latest benchmark on countries by average deposit in forex, Saudi Arabia has made it to the top 10 list. The same goes for our latest benchmark on average deposits in binary options, where Kuwait reached the 5th spot.

For this reason we decided to dedicate the magazine part of the latest issue of the to the MENA region. In this special report, we have endeavored to cover the most important topics of digital trading in the region. We have also added a comprehensive coverage of the local fintech industry.

It is important to note that we did not include all countries in this area. For instance, we excluded Iraq, Syria and Libya, due to the complex political situations in these countries. Iran was also excluded due to the rapid change in its international status (i.e. its gradual re-connect to the global economy).

Israel, a key figure in the local (and global) financial spheres, was also excluded. The Israeli financial industry deserves separate coverage in one of our next issues.

This exclusive and special report aims to serve as a manual, answering most of the questions you’ve had about the region but were too afraid to ask.

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