Insights from the 2024 Abu Dhabi Private Markets Investment Breakfast

June 5th, 2024, Abu Dhabi

Last week, we had the privilege of co-hosting the Abu Dhabi Private Markets Investment Breakfast, together with CMS Abu Dhabi. The event provided a lively atmosphere for nearly 100 representatives of leading local and international PE, VC and Sovereign Wealth funds.

P&P CMS Collage MENA May 2024


The panel members were:

  • Bilal Baloch – Partner, Shorooq Partners;
  • Mirza Beg – Founding Partner, Ruya Partners;
  • H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi – Senior Partner, Global Ventures;
  • Rima Hadid – General Counsel, Emirates Investment Authority;
  • Yağız Özgüven – Executive Director Private Investments, Waha Capital;
  • Jean-Philippe Syed – Partner, X12 Capital;
  • Miray Zaki – Managing Director, Gulf Capital;

The panel discussion was co-chaired by Graham Conlon – Partner, CMS Abu Dhabi, and Michael Al-Nassir – Partner & Head of Private Equity APMEA, Pedersen & Partners.

Key takeaways from the event:

  • The MENA region is experiencing growth fuelled by local factors as well as global geopolitical factors. The business sentiment in the region is rather positive, and a continued upward trend is expected. There has been an increase in the number of M&A transactions in the MENA region, and an increase in interest from corporate investors.
  • The UAE has shown itself to be resilient, and other major markets in the region are growing (KSA) or showing growth potential (Egypt). Overall, the UAE has seen a significant inflow of capital notwithstanding the geopolitical uncertainty, and there has been little direct negative impact.
  • The UAE has proven to be a maturing market, with stable leadership and clear direction. This has allowed the country’s economy to remain stable and show substantial growth, with potential for more in the future.
  • The UAE is a sound launchpad in the MENA region for startups due to the ease of doing business, a culture of early adoption among consumers/users, and a “regional test lab” approach.
  • The region’s sovereigns are increasingly looking at #PrivateMarkets, are increasingly investing directly or co-investing in Emerging Markets (South & Southeast Asia, Africa, etc.), and at the same time increasingly recognising the importance of the SWFs investing in-country.
  • There have been a number of IPOs in the GCC, but those have usually been SoEs. The private markets have seen a predominance of strategic exits and secondaries, and there have also been examples of funds buying entire portfolios.
  • Healthcare in the MENA region is attracting investor interest – not only in health services, but also in HealthTech and Life Sciences R&D. There is a significant amount of R&D in the region.
  • FinTech businesses have seen growth in the MENA region; they address structural inadequacies and have demonstrated consistent growth for investors and visible exit paths.
  • Other key sectors that are expected to flourish include food production and food security, renewable energy, digital infrastructure and education.
  • Many start-ups claim to have “AI” in their business, but the reality is that only a minority genuinely do. It’s key for their credibility that start-ups looking to fundraise are transparent about the core drivers of their business – they should not try to sell themselves as doing something which they actually aren’t.
  • While the central banks have been hesitating to lower interest rates, there is pressure to do so. The markets are expecting it to happen, although it is difficult to predict when.

Pedersen & Partners is a leading global Executive Search and Leadership Consulting firm. We operate 54 wholly-owned offices in 50 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia & the Americas. Our values of Trust, Relationship and Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives.