Despite the fear of delocalisation in western Europe and the prospect of cheap labour from emerging countries, most of the flow will go to developed countries. Investors tend to dislike political risk, corruption and poor infrastructure, all areas in which the north Africa and Middle East regions score badly. And growing concern about the rise of terrorism, coupled with a general mistrust of Islam, is not helping the cause: the regions are, in this regard, considered among the riskier regions of the world by 60% of investors.

Could this also be the reason why the share of European investment has been declining? The flow here is steady but is overshadowed by Middle East-originated investment in the region, principally the Gulf, which accounts for 36% of the total.

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For many, Africa and the Middle East failed to produce the necessary brainpower to position the region as a ‘Mediterranean Bangalore’ for R&D and other knowledge-based services. FDI, which mainly feeds retail banking, energy facilities, telecoms licences and pharaonic tourism industries, continues to cry out for intellectual resource.

However, chip-maker Intel, hardware manufacturer Hewlett-Packard, and computer storage giants Scan Disc and EMC are pouring billions into R&D facilities in Israel, telecoms R&D centres in Egypt, technological parks in Tunisia and major global players in Jordan.

Going against the global economic grain, semi-conductor titan STMicroelectronics based its R&D centre in Morocco through the Mohammedia University, while centralising its production centres in France and the US. Setting a new trend?

Sébastien Delasnerie, a former journalist and director at the Invest in France agency, advises governments on branding and image in international markets.

E-mail: SDELASNERIE@voila.fr