'It is a great time to invest'

The year 2010 will offer plenty of opportunities for investors.

"It's a great time to invest, and that's what people should understand," he says. "If you invest now, you're buying shares at a discount price - many are at an all-time low." He also recommends buying property for the same reason.

"You just need to have the belief that Dubai will come through all this, and that when it does, it will progress," he explains. He says last year was the low point for the region and he expects an upward trend in the current year. "I believe the Middle East will come through it in the next three or four years, and it will be back to the boom days," Mr Owens says. But more so than Middle East markets, he believes it is emerging international markets that hold the most promise. He recommends investing in rapidly developing countries such as India, China, Latin America, Russia and Pakistan.

"People who have suffered losses could turn their loss around far more quickly by investing in emerging markets," Mr Owens says. "I see the European and American markets being depressed for years to come. Investors may as well cut their losses now and change their funds." He maintains that commodities, infrastructure, transportation and property are sectors to look at in the developing economies. In addition, banks, energy, materials and telecommunications are good choices. "Telecommunications is a big market in India and Pakistan, and certainly will be in China, because you have a massive population who will all want a mobile phone and a television one day," he says. One thing Mr Owens advises against is investing in gold.

"A lot of people turn to gold in uncertain times. Especially now, people are talking about it because its value has skyrocketed in the past two years, but there's going to come a time when it will just plummet. I see it levelling off soon." Mr Owens says it's important for people to discuss strategies with a financial adviser before making decisions, adding that one must be disciplined in investing. He also advises everyone to have a five-year financial plan in place.

"It's a matter of how much they can afford to invest over a period of time, and what they have got to fall back on so they're not forced to withdraw from their equity investments," he says. * Sanam Islam