US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks with the press on as he flies to the Middle East on January 7, 2019. Pompeo will tour Middle East capitals next week in an effort to shore up crucial alliances strained by the Yemen war, US plans to exit Syria and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  / AFP / POOL / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS
Mike Pompeo will tour Middle East capitals next week in an effort to shore up crucial alliances strained by the Yemen war and US plans to exit Syria. AFP

Here's everywhere US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel on his Middle East tour



US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set off on his eight-day Middle Eastern tour on Tuesday, his first international trip in 2019 and a visit in which he will seek to reassure Gulf allies about America's commitment to the region.

He will travel to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and Kuwait City, according to the State Department website.

Key issues on his agenda are efforts to end the war in Yemen, uniting the Gulf Cooperation Council, building the Middle East Strategic Alliance and brokering peace in Afghanistan.

He will also reassure allies that the US is not leaving the Middle East, as President Trump's surprise withdrawal of troops from Syria might indicate.

Here is Mike Pompeo's full schedule for his Middle East tour:

Amman, Jordan

The Secretary of State lands in Jordan on Tuesday to discuss bilateral co-operation. He will discuss US-Jordanian relations and the situation in Syria and Jordanian-Iraqi trade.

Cairo, Egypt

Mr Pompeo will meet Egyptian leaders to discuss Iran, Gaza and counter-terrorism. Here, Mr Pompeo will deliver a speech on peace, prosperity, stability and security in the Middle East. He is also reportedly set to rebuke the Middle East vision of President Donald Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

Manama, Bahrain

Leaders will discuss US-Bahraini co-operation and the use of the Middle East Strategic Alliance to counter Iranian aggression.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

While in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo will meet the UAE's leaders and discuss regional and bilateral co-operation, particularly increasing ties in areas of trade and investment.

Maintaining the peace deal agreed to  in Sweden on the war in Yemen will also be on the agenda. The leaders will discuss support for Martin Griffiths, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen.

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Read more:

Pompeo set for Gulf tour to reassure allies on Iran and Yemen

Pompeo message for allies: US is not leaving Middle East

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Doha, Qatar

Discussions will focus on US-Qatari co-operation, peace in Afghanistan , the importance of the GCC and countering Iran's policies in the region.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Mr Pompeo will meet Saudi leaders to discuss Yemen, Iran and Syria. They will discuss boosting the work of UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and discuss the future of Yemen. The Secretary will also ask for an update on the investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Muscat, Oman

Talks will focus on increased regional and bilateral co-operation, promoting regional peace, particularly in Yemen. There will also be discussion of the Middle East Strategic Alliance and a united GCC.

Kuwait City, Kuwait

Mr Pompeo will lead the third US-Kuwaiti Strategic Dialogue, focusing on areas of defence, cybersecurity and strengthening economic ties. Leaders will also discuss a united GCC and UN-led efforts in Yemen.

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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