August 23rd, 2012
06:05 PM GMT
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) – When Facebook went public in May it became the biggest stock launch of the year, but the two next biggest initial public offerings had something in common - they were both Malaysian companies.

In June, Felda Global Ventures Holdings raised $3.1 billion in shares, and a month later IHH Healthcare raised $2.1billion. Both are Malaysian and for both, key investors came from the Middle East.

“Middle East investment is highly important,” Fung Siu, Asia editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNN’s Ayesha Durgahee.

Siu added: “There are synergies to be had between the two countries - not least because they are Muslim-dominated countries, they have that in common. Sharia law is common to both countries and they try to leverage that in the Islamic finance sector - particularly Malaysia which is at the vanguard of Islamic finance.

“So the Middle East could actually use and tap Malaysia as its financial center and hub, and source of finance as well.

“Foreign direct investment is crucial to Malaysia's transformation into a high-income economy by 2020."

Malaysia's economy is growing rapidly, with the country's GDP rising by 5.4% over the past three months.

A report by HSBC in January predicted that Malaysia will be the world's 21st-largest economy by 2050, with income per capita jumping from $5,224 to $29, 249.

“It’s still an export-led economy, buoyed by palm oil, the oil and gas sector, the manufacturing sector is also very strong ,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, CEO of Malaysia Airlines. “You can only export to a certain extent. What the government is trying to do is to encourage more the consumer economy.”

Boosting visitor numbers could be part of the formula. Tourism currently accounts for 8% of the country's GDP. A change in foreign-ownership rules could increase it to 13%, which could generate a total of $54 billion in revenue by 2020.

“We have nine airlines flying from the Middle Eastern region,” said Chong Yoke Har, director of Tourism Malaysia. “Malaysia is very strategically located in the middle of Southeast Asia, and therefore foreigner investors look at this as a very attractive area to invest in.”

And they've already started to bite. Qatar Holding, owner of Harrods department store, announced in July that its first Harrods hotel will be built and launched in Kuala Lumpur.

A launchpad for hotels and a potential springboard for investment, Malaysia's multicultural roots are helping to change the economic landscape of the country, whilst moving the Middle East closer to Asia.

Filed under: Along the silk road


soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. saeed

    CORRECTION.......Per Capita Income in Malaysia is above $10 000 and NOT $5 222................please check the facts before making a report

    August 24, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  2. Deutschetanke

    I hope the arabs don't export their extremism and talibanism to malaysia.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:57 am |
  3. gliese 42

    This beats me why the Arabs loves the West when Malaysia is a heaven to all Muslims

    August 24, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  4. Garamasala

    Israel is always up to no good

    August 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  5. Name*Ziby Cherry Philips

    come on Malaysia! George Soares destroyed your economy through currency speculation, now is your chance to cash in and move on!

    from the grandson of Puthenkayalayil Chacko Cherry (P C CHERRY, then owner of Maju Enterprises, Klang, Selangor, Malaysia)

    August 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  6. Sharmini

    Can't blame Soros for the stupidity of the then Malaysian Prime Minister.
    Soros made bilions from the speculation, while Malaysia lost billions.....
    It was a fair game, and the morons lost !
    With all the ragheads coming into KUL, it feels like a sea of black, with only eyes visible !
    I find it offensive that the ragheads expect visitors to their country to conform to their dress code/culture/custom; but won't do the same when in other countries ! It's not in Malaysian culture to cover oneself, nor dress in PJs !
    Won't take long for the terrorists to start making camp in Malaysia; as it is the bomb maker of the Bali/Jakarta bombing is a Malaysian....

    August 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  7. romuluz

    Really..ragheads?

    August 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  8. raika45

    To Sharmini. Ragheads or whatever. Just bring your money in and spend it here.You are all welcome.Just do not create trouble.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  9. Abdullah bin Soleman

    Malaysia will restore the glory of syariah islam in Southeast Asia once and for all...

    August 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  10. Mister Mr

    Malaysia is cashing in on Sept 11.
    After Sept 11, Arabs avoided going to their usual tourist destinations such as Europe and the USA for fear of being shipped to Guantanamo.
    Malaysia gave the Arabs special treatment, no need for a visa, and best of all, Arab women can cover their faces and the immigration officer will politely let Arab women in without demanding that they remove their veils like other airports do.

    August 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  11. Sab swee teh

    Malaysia will soon become a secular Muslim country. Say no to shariah Islam.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  12. chowtaitat

    I dont mind expat money coming in but I hope that these Expat think they can take advantage of us Asians like in the olden days.

    August 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  13. isablla3

    So a thriving Muslim economy with sound and working Shariah law.
    So guess that is possible when foreign invasion, intervention and wars are not exported.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  14. hgvj

    Malaysia will do anything for money................

    August 25, 2012 at 3:52 am |
  15. Deutschetanke

    The arabs come. The guys go to the girlie bars and brothels, while their ninjaturtle wives stay in the hotel room. They ate hilarious to watch when they try to go swimming in their full glory of that ninjaturtle garb, or when the guy and his 4 wives insist on getting into a cab which are by law only allowed to have maximum 4 passengers. The idiot arab can't bear the thought of having any of his wives ride in another cab driven by a guy driver. But the Iranians are the worry as there is an influx of drug smuggling from Iran. The customs better check carefully to see if they hide drugs in their ninja turtle garbs.

    August 25, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  16. Modern Malaysian

    We promise to do our best to educate the arabs on the pleasure of eating pork sausages downed with some cold beer, esting Chinese buns with bbq pork which we call "char siew pau" to confuse them, gambling at casinos, going to KTVs to sing while the girlie hostesses sit on them, etc (the arab guys don't need persuasion on the girlie stuff as they actively seek out the plesure of the flesh). By the end of the visit, the arabs will go home with fond memory and will come back for more.

    August 25, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  17. Modern Malaysian

    The arab visitors are generally very peaceful. The Nigerians are the worst lot as many of them are not genuine tourists but are actually drug distributors, conmen, and flesh traders, as well as trouble makers.

    August 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  18. saeed

    many turist from middle east to malaysia because its green and rainforest its a contrast to a desert country now there are many other places in asia with rainforest like hainan in china or myanmar the onlything that is different in malaysia is its a very safe country now if china can make hainan as safe as hong kong then turism in malaysia will stop because u get 2 thing in a go you get to visit china and to see a tropical rainforest.

    August 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  19. Big Joe

    Saeed, you can't have tropical rain forests in China because there is no part of China in a tropical rain forest belt geographically, and deinitely not in an equatorial rain forest belt. Hainan is in a sub-tropical belt. But Hainan is the red light capital of China, so make sure you bring along your Viagra supply. And a Chinese dictionary / translator to grt around.

    August 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  20. Chua

    who cares about harrods hotel?
    there are hardly any 1st grade engineers in this country.

    August 26, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  21. pai3355

    the felda global is just to make money for the BN politicians. They see the gold inside the palm oil estate which is should be given to the workers not to BN

    August 27, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  22. Jacques

    Isablla3 or Isabella....I'm not a Malay, but Malaysia is like the USA, there other major religions there i.e. Buddhism, Hinduism, and of course Christian. Malays are very diverse ethnics or racial group of people.
    To: Abdullah Bin Soleman, please be advised, only 50 or 60 percent of Malays are Muslims....So your dream of Sharia Law will never ever come thru without a fight from others. The whole of South East Asia are mixed with all major religions and diversed. Malaysia is the best example for South East Asia, people should live peacefully together.

    August 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  23. Calvin Tan Eng Yee

    Malaysia is the best kept secret in the world! It has 5.4% growth rate. Top 10 countries for tourism. Free from earthquate, tsunami or cyclone. Food is so cheap that you can eat out any time without doing your own cooking. People are friendly. The BN govt practice a moderate, secular brand of Islam. Now in the midst of an economic transformation agenda till year 2020 to make Malaysia a high income nation. A glowing beacon in a world of economic gloom and doom.

    August 28, 2012 at 1:50 am |
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    September 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
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  27. Cheah Soon Kit

    Malaysia will become the Saudi of South East Asia inevitably...

    September 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  28. Name*Ziby Cherry Philips

    Malaysia is an investors' paradise. The socio-economic mix is suitable and preferable. It has a mix of Indian, Malay(bhoomi putra) and Chinese. A very westernised muslim country with a progressive outlook.

    My dad was born in Malaysia but holds a difderent nationality. My grand dad was the right hand man for a King and had 40 cars. (in erstwhile Malaya, British Empire)

    Malaysia rules la?

    October 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
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  31. Dingo

    Malaysian politicians are one of the most corrupt. They have used the nations resources to line their own pocket. Businesses in Malaysia are required to take on a "bumiputra" as a 50/50 partner even if they don't contribute anything to the business. In AUS, Malaysian politicians are well known to have bought properties using the nations wealth. It is NOT an investors' paradise. If you've been to Malaysia the past 10-15 years, you'll realize that in the suburbs (away from KL), the infrastructures are falling apart. It's a 3rd world country and will continue to be one because of these nut heads. Wake up Malaysians.

    January 29, 2013 at 5:35 am |

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