“Meet The Experts” reached out to one of the most distinguished FX specialists in the Middle East, Bassam Maalouf, Executive Vice President of WorldWideMarkets, for his exclusive perspective on the region’s FX prospects and future.
Mr. Maalouf is no stranger to the Forex industry, having served in a multitude of senior management roles at both WorldWideMarkets and FX Solutions. His extensive experience in the Middle East, which includes such locales as Dubai, Kuwait, Riyadh and Istanbul, has helped him become an advocate for the region, and truly an expert in his craft.
1. Do you think Forex brokers hesitate when approaching the Middle East from a retail client business perspective?
It is a different language and different culture. Historically, there are few firms that have approached this region, however, this worked out for us. Many firms were hesitant to come here because they were so successful in other regions around the world. When I think back to 9 years ago, when I was working at FX Solutions; we had the opportunity to be a market leader and enter the Middle East.
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We seized that opportunity and it turned out to be an extremely successful endeavor for FX Solutions and that continued success is carried on through the initiatives we are spearheading at WorldWideMarkets in the Middle East. In honesty, once other firms found how successful we were in the region they began to take an interest in the region and some established offices here. The UAE and in particular, Dubai, is one of the most conducive markets for business in the region.
At the same time you have the proximity to the rest of the Arabic World, Turkey, India and Pakistan; the UAE is a hub for so many firms. There are many other factors that continue to add to the business appeal of this region day by day. The market is consolidating and there are fewer firms in business today than 9 years ago. However, this has had a positive effect for Forex retail clients as firms like WorldWideMarkets compete for business. We also see the depth and breadth of our client base increasing as more people learn about Forex as an alternative asset class. Firms have to evolve and have to be creative. One of the most important initiatives WWM online forex trading sees is educating our clients and offering them beneficial tools to help them grow their investment portfolios.
2. Tell us what are the main drivers for retail FX clients in the Arab World?
You have a culture of FX that started with the forums (our version of social media), these forums drove interested people to learn about Forex as an asset class. That interest naturally lead to trading and Forex became a trading strategy along with CFDs and other financial instruments. You had traders become money managers and introducing brokers and a whole industry was formed from scratch.
Traders new to FX in the Arab World began to shape the market by creating a demand side for information that includes websites that provide commentaries and signals, news and analysis , training courses and online chat rooms. But we have to remember, it all started from the forums. I remember when Forex was not accepted nor tolerated as a legitimate investment class. As the market evolved we can see there are many on Facebook and Twitter openly advertising their success stories and sharing their trading history and idea in respect of Forex as an asset class. It is interesting to see how Forex, as an asset class did evolve and continues to evolve regionally and around the world.