British commodity trading and finance investment firm DVK Group and a Qatari royal are currently in negotiations to launch a Shariah-compliant investment fund targeted solely at Arab women.
With a capital target of up to USD 500 million, the fund will be aimed at encouraging women to invest and seek greater opportunities in the business area. Findings of a Barclays Wealth survey also point out that Arab women have grown tremendously in confidence and are highly likely to invest in funds. Global investment firms, such as Merrill Lynch, have also launched special programs to attract Arab women investors.
A pilot study project will be launched by the end of this year. The company will expand the project in other Gulf and Asian countries if it receives a positive market response. The fund is targeting a lucrative and largely untapped segment of the population as women in Middle East are now actively managing their family fortunes.
A 2011 report highlighted that women controlled an estimated USD 700 billion (22 percent) of the region’s assets. This figure was expected to jump a further eight percent in the next four years.
Talking about the project, Deepak Kuntawala, the company’s founder and chairman, says that, “we meet [contacts] in London and their advice to one of the princesses out in Qatar was the synergy was there. There has been a lot of discussion around developing an investment vehicle to enable women in the Islamic GCC regions to have the opportunity to invest and do something with their capital”.
In 2012, the DVK Group launched its set up in the region with DVK Saudi. A member of the Saudi royal family was nominated as its non-executive chairman. The firm has recently expanded into Bahrain and has aggressive plans to enter other Gulf countries. On the back of high public and private spending in construction, the firm plans to target infrastructure projects in the Gulf, China, Russia and North Africa.