Walia and Bhatia (right): optimistic outlook

Walia and Bhatia (right): optimistic outlook

Indian investments into GCC rising rapidly

01 October 2017

The GCC nations and India are strengthening historic ties across cultural, trade, defence and political areas as they realise the potential of strategic cooperation, said an industry expert, noting that investment flows between the regions are rising rapidly.

“The GCC governments are continuously reforming policies to create an environment conducive for investment by foreign entities. On the other hand, India, as a fast growing and emerging economy, is in the process of upgrading infrastructure, creating a digitally empowered society, increasing local manufacturing and enhancing energy production. Such initiatives from both regions will create increased investment opportunities and further strengthen the relations between GCC and India,” added Rohit Walia, executive chairman, Alpen Capital (ME), an investment banking advisory firm.

Walia was commenting on Alpen Capital’s research report titled “GCC-India corridor – Investment opportunities and challenges”. This report assesses the competitiveness of countries in ease of doing business and further identifies and discusses the potential sectors for cooperation and investment in both the regions. It also outlines the investment drivers and challenges in the regions. Lastly, the report profiles some of the prominent companies in the regions.

“Acknowledging the growth potential that exists between the GCC and India, the two regions have held leadership level visits and talks in the recent years to explore new areas of cooperation,” said Sanjay Bhatia, managing director, Alpen Capital (ME).

“India’s share of the total investments into the GCC increased from 4.7 per cent in 2011 to 16.2 per cent in 2016 while GCC investments into India also continued to rise from 0.7 per cent in 2011 to 2.95 in 2016.

“Sectors such as oil and gas, food processing, healthcare, education and infrastructure seem to be the top picks for investors looking towards GCC as an investment destination. In India, sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, food processing, and healthcare prove to be more attractive as investment opportunities for GCC companies. We are likely to see an increase in the flow of investments between the regions the improving ties and regulatory environment,” he added.

The GCC nations have been able to self-fund their economic development through the wealth accumulated from the export of oil and gas. Nonetheless, foreign investments have remained imperative in diversifying revenue base, strengthening technological capabilities, improving export competitiveness and creating employment opportunities.

In contrast to the overall decline in total FDI into the GCC, investments from India grew at a CAGR of 15.9 per cent from $ 1.4 billion in 2011 to $ 2.9 billion in 2016. During the period, India’s share of the total investments into the GCC increased substantially from 4.7 per cent to 16.2 per cent.

Nearly 85 per cent of the Indian investments into the GCC were in the UAE, with India regarded as the third largest investor in the Emirates after the UK and the US.



Favourable business climate: The GCC region offers a conducive environment for business with least demanding tax structure, low-cost electricity and natural gas, strong transport connectivity and investor-friendly free trade zones (FTZs) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Re-export potential: Due to their strategic location between the East and West, the GCC nations are seen as a gateway to the markets of wider Middle East and CIS countries. Subsequently, the UAE and Oman have developed themselves as re-export hubs and their potential is increasing with growing cross-border trade.

High spending power: With an average GDP per capita (in PPP terms) of $ 61,559, most of the GCC nations rank amongst the top ten richest countries in the world. Although the prevailing economic slowdown is affecting spending power of the consumers, the situation is likely to improve in the long-term with intensifying revenue diversification measures.

Encouraging demographics: Between 2016 and 2021, the population in the GCC is expected to grow by 6.5 million individuals. The growing consumer base comprising young, diverse and digitally enabled population will boost domestic consumption. Moreover, the region is home to 8.5 million Indians (~16 per cent of total population), making them a vital contributor to the region’s economy.



The round of oil price meltdown has affected the oil-based revenue of the GCC countries. Subsequent austerity measures to shore up revenues have reduced government spending on infrastructure projects, consumer spending power and business activity in the region, thereby leading to a decline in investment inflows. Thus, a persistent weakness in oil prices coupled with measures such as the forthcoming introduction of value added tax (VAT) could impede investments.

A limited pool of local talent, increasing emphasis on nationalisation of jobs and high attrition rates are hindering the growth of labour-intensive sectors in the GCC.

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