Already the signs of change are evident from DP World's $7.1 billion acquisition of UK ports operator P&O to Sabic's $2 billion purchase of the petrochemical division of Dutch chemicals and pharmaceuticals group DSM five years ago. Such companies are also moving into emerging markets in Africa and South Asia ahead of most multinationals.
For example, Emirates Telecommunications (Etisalat) has bought strategic stakes in companies in Pakistan and West Africa, as well as mobile licences in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Strategic growth is driven by the need to find new markets following the saturation of domestic ones and to gain quick access to western know-how and technology.
Dubai property group Emaar found its fast track to Western management and marketing expertise through a billion-dollar buying spree that netted it John Laing Homes in the US and Hamptons International in the UK.
How Gulf companies can build global businesses,
Saleh A Al-Ateeqi and Hans-Martin Stockmeier,
McKinsey Quarterly Online, April 2007