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Due Diligence in the Middle East and North Africa region

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region presents a range of opportunities and challenges for businesses seeking to operate in the area. In the years since the "Arab Spring" of 2011, the political landscape of the region has been in a state of constant evolution, making it more important than ever to conduct thorough integrity due diligence to ensure the viability of any potential business ventures. Many elements of the economic infrastructure in the MENA region have connections to former regimes, making it essential to carefully assess the potential risks and rewards of any business endeavours in the region.

Challenges of investigative due diligence in the Arab World

Conducting investigative due diligence in the Arab world can be a complex process due to the limited availability of registration records and other basic background information. To compensate for this, it is necessary to review a wide range of open source materials, including the internet and media, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject of the investigation.

In addition, it is essential to conduct investigations in the local language(s) of the region in order to accurately assess potential risks and rewards. In the francophone countries of the Maghreb region, it is also necessary to conduct research in French, in addition to Arabic and English, to ensure a complete understanding of the subject of the investigation.

Regional knowledge

At Maddocks Insight, we have the linguistic capabilities in Arabic, French, and English, as well as the geopolitical expertise needed to conduct thorough investigative due diligence in all Arabic-speaking countries of the region, including:

Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE) (including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and the other Emirates), Oman, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and Chad.

Specific features of MENA due diligence research

There are a number of specific considerations to keep in mind when performing integrity due diligence in the Arab world:

  • Sanctions against terrorist-related targets - it is absolutely essential to identify any links of the subject companies, their directors or owners to entities or individuals that have been designated on the various terrorist sanction lists.
  • Sanctions against Iran and Syria - with a lot of trade between Arab countries, it is important to find out whether the subject companies, their directors or owners engage in trade with countries under sanctions, such as Syria or Iran.
  • Links to former regimes - with the demise of some of the authoritarian regimes in the MENA region, links held by the subject companies and their principals to former government officials need to be analysed carefully, as such links may adversely affect the companies' future operations in the country and the region.
  • While there has been an explosion of new and critical news outlets in countries that have removed their authoritarian regimes, many of the Arab countries are still under the de facto rule of monarchies or authoritarian governments. In the latter instances, it is vital to access alternative sources of information beyond the official media, including blogs, social media, and opposition websites. This is particularly important given the ongoing changes in the political landscape of the region, as it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the current state of affairs and potential future developments.

In summary, conducting business in the MENA region requires careful and thorough due diligence to ensure the integrity of any potential ventures. By conducting a thorough investigation, businesses can make informed decisions and minimize potential risks while maximizing potential rewards.

If you have due diligence research needs in the Middle East or North Africa, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your specific requirements.

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