Consumer markets in the Middle East will be key for the United States as it looks to drive exports and sustain growth, according to Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties.
He made the comments as he received the prestigious Arab Bankers Association of North America (ABANA) Achievement Award 2012.
The property tycoon received the award at a special ceremony held in New York for his "outstanding achievements and pioneering contributions to business".
A premier recognition by the leading group of New York-based financial professionals, the ABANA Achievement Award is presented annually to individuals or groups who have made compelling contributions to the business sector.
In his acceptance speech, Alabbar underlined the strategic position of Dubai as a key link in the New Silk Road of trade and commerce that connects America and the emerging markets in Asia.
He said that America will need fast-growing consumer markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia markets to drive its exports sector and sustain the growth momentum.
“America’s biggest opportunity is the Middle East region, where it has established strong partnerships. The two regions need to engage positively by focusing on the soft power and skills of the Middle East’s 200 million youth population,” he said.
US exports to the Arab World rose more than 17 percent to nearly $66bn in 2012, according to latest figures.
New data released by the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) showed that exports to 22 Arab nations increased from $56.18bn in 2011 to $65.91bn last year, its highest for a single year.
Alabbar said that the US-Middle East relations were at the threshold of a new era following America’s rapid move towards oil self-sufficiency.
“The America’s oil-led narrative with the Middle East is changing. The discovery of shale gas and its huge prospects is set to alter the oil sector dynamics of the American economy," he said.
One of the Middle East’s most respected businessmen, Alabbar is the founder and chairman of Emaar Properties and Africa Middle East Resources (AMER), a private company operating to unlock the value of natural resource opportunities.
He is also the chairman of RSH, a Singapore-based pan-Asian marketer, distributor and retailer of international fashion and lifestyle brands.
Alabbar is the chairman of the Dubai Events Council, and has served as the founding director general of the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED), and as a member of the Dubai Executive Council and Dubai Economic Council.
Earlier winners of the ABANA Achievement Award include Bader M Al Sa’ad (Kuwait Investment Authority); Dr Muhammad Al Jasser (Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency); Youssef A. Nasr (HSBC Bank Middle East Limited); Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair (MashreqBank); and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin AbdulAziz Alsaud (Kingdom Holding Company).