The number of FDI projects in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region grew by 16% in 2011, according to The fDi Report 2012, released by fDi Intelligence. Capital investment was down slightly by 1% and job creation up by 3%. The top 10 countries for FDI attracted 64% of projects and capital investment, and 54% of jobs created.

The United Arab Emirates attracted the highest number of projects in the region, while Saudi Arabia attracted the most capital investment, which grew by 40% in 2011 to just over $14bn. However, this is still far below the $42bn in capital investment recorded in Saudi Arabia in 2008. South Africa performed particularly impressively in 2011, with a 57% increase in project numbers, 87% growth in capital investment and a 28% rise in jobs created, making it the leading country in the region for job creation.


The political turmoil of 2011 led to some dramatic changes in the volume of FDI in the countries most affected by the Arab Spring uprisings. The number of FDI projects in Libya and Yemen declined by 80%, in Egypt by 29%, in Syria by 26% and in Tunisia the number of FDI projects fell by 14%. Companies from the MEA region invested in 10% more projects overseas in 2011 than 2010, accounting for 4% of global FDI projects. Despite the growth, the number of overseas FDI projects from MEA companies was still only 71% of the volume recorded in 2008.

The growth in overseas projects led to a small increase in capital investment of 0.4% but a decline in the number of jobs created by 6%. UAE-based companies remained most active in FDI overseas, although the number of their projects declined by 3% in 2011 and capital investment overseas declined by 43%. This was largely due to continued decline in real estate FDI, with UAE companies investing in 57% fewer real estate projects in 2011 than 2010. South African companies were the second most active in investing, with a strong growth of 25% more projects overseas, 93% more capital investment and 65% more job creation in 2011 than they did in 2010. While starting from a low volume, companies from Qatar, Mauritius, Togo and Botswana established their highest number of FDI projects overseas in 2011 since greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets began recording FDI in 2003.

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