Lunch Dialogue on "Doing Business in the Middle East"


For years, savvy investors have quietly looked past the usual front page news on trouble spots in the Middle East, to explore pockets of stability and growth potential amongst some of the countries in the region. These locations boast a youthful demographic composition and the untapped consumer demand of emerging markets.

The Middle East is not monolithic. It is home to a heterogeneous population of over 410 million people spread over 17 countries, with diverse political and economic systems, ethnicities, and cultural practices. The more forward-looking governments have sought to diversify and expand their economies beyond traditional streams of revenue, spending their historically large budget surpluses to stimulate domestic growth. Others seek to attract foreign investment through tax and various other incentives.

Singapore businesses investing in the Middle East will benefit from the positive branding of Singapore there, but what else should they consider? How should they operate, and pick the opportunities from the mirages? What are the emerging trends in the region that portend growth or risks? How do businesses succeed in the various countries of the region, and what are the cultural do’s and don’ts? How to succeed in business in the various countries of the region?

Drawing on years of experience in navigating the Middle Eastern landscape, Mr Shamsher Zaman and Mr Ray Ferguson will share with IPS’ Corporate Associates their insights on conducting business in the region.

Read the report — IPS Corporate Associates’ Lunch Dialogue: Doing Business in the Middle East


Mr Shamsher ZAMAN is the Managing Director of Linkers (Far East) Pte Ltd, Singapore – a company incorporated in 1982 with branch & associate offices in South East Asia, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa. Linkers (Far East) Pte Ltd is a global player in the supply of Industrial Chemicals & Polymers, which are raw materials for various industries. He is currently Chairman of Singapore Business Federation’s Middle East Business Group and Vice Chairman of Singapore Business Federation’s South Asia Business Group.

He is the Founding Board Member & Director of Singapore Chemical Industry Council, the official industry association representing the Singapore Energy and Chemicals cluster in the private sector. It plays a proactive role in representing the interests of the manufacturing sector and continues to promote it as a major economic pillar of Singapore.

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore appointed him in 2004 as the Founding member of the Middle East Expert Panel (MEEP) to tap on his expertise, experience and advice in order to help Singapore widen and deepen our overall economic linkage with Middle East economies and facilitate specific private or public sector projects by Singapore-based companies in Middle East. IE Singapore is the government agency that spearheads the overseas growth of Singapore-based companies and promotes international trade.

He is currently serving as Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He has been invited to speak at several Global Summits, Conference and other forums, both locally and abroad. He was awarded The Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2005 and his company has also been conferred with several other highly prestigious corporate awards and accolades.

Mr Ray FERGUSON is the Executive Chairman of Caber Financial Pte Ltd (Caber) – a Singapore-based FinTech advisory and private investment platform that he founded after an extensive executive career in banking. He had previously served multiple Chairman, Board, Chief Executive and business leadership roles across 5 continents. Currently, he wears multiple hats, serving also as Non-Executive Chairman of Singapore Life Pte Ltd, Independent Non-Exec Director of Halcyon Agri Corporation Ltd and Adviser of Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

Prior to embarking on his plural career, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer of Arab Banking Corporation BSC (Bank ABC), Bahrain. He also served as Executive Director and Deputy Chairman of Bank ABC Islamic Bank (E.C.). Bank ABC is an international bank, with deep roots in, and understanding of the Arab world and with a principal focus on developing and facilitating trade and investment globally through its network of subsidiaries, branches and associates in Middle East, North Africa, Europe, US, Latin America and Asia.

He was with Standard Chartered Bank for 28 years prior to serving at Bank ABC, with experience across Asia, Americas, Middle East and Europe. His last role was Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore, from 2009 to 2014, in addition to his role as Regional Chief Executive Officer, Southeast Asia that he held from 2007 to 2012.

A Singapore Citizen since 2010, he is an Associate of the Institute of Bankers in Scotland and a full member of the Singapore Institute of Directors. In 2010, he was conferred Distinguished Fellow by the Institute of Banking and Finance in Singapore.


Professor Tommy KOH is Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Centre for International Law, and Rector of Tembusu College at NUS. He is the Co-Chairman of the China-Singapore Forum, the India-Singapore Strategic Dialogue, and the Japan-Singapore Symposium. Professor Koh was Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in New York for 13 years and served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Professor Koh was President of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, and he chaired the Preparatory Committee as well as the Main Committee at the Earth Summit. He also served as Ambassador to the United States of America for six years and was Singapore’s Chief Negotiator for the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. He chaired two dispute panels for the World Trade Organization and also served as the Dean of the Faculty of Law at NUS.


By Invitation only.


If you have any enquiries, please contact Ms Jasline Ng at 6516-8382 or via email:  

Thursday, 07 September 2017
12.00 noon to 2.00 pm