Banking and Finance in the Arab Middle East by Rodney Wilson (auth.)

By Rodney Wilson (auth.)

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Such ideas would have been too far ahead of their time however even for the Misr group to accept, despite it being and important instigator of inter-Arab financial co-operation. 3 Growth of Arab Financial Expertise With the spread of education in the Arab world, especially in the first three decades of this century, many young Arabs started to enter the modern sectors of their own economies. They began to take over some of the jobs which had formerly been carried out by foreigners, either expatriates from Europe serving in the area for short stays, or more permanently resident foreign nationals, such as those living in large numbers in Beirut, Alexandria and Cairo.

There is little doubt that Palmer's venture was of considerable benefit to many in the rural areas, and encouraged the spread of cotton cultivation by smallholders which added to Egypt's export earnings. Not all of the money may have been of course used for productive purposes or even for farming, but those who used their credits as they were supposed to found their cash incomes augmented. Apart from those who gained directly, there were also indirect benefits as moneylenders were forced to lower their interest charges, although others stopped lending altogether rather than reduce their rates.

Special couriers are sent to Switzerland on a regular basis to obtain foreign banknotes and gold to augment the supplies which the moneychangers obtain from the currency changed by foreigners within the kingdom, and that from Saudi citizens returning from abroad. These jet-hopping couriers are in many ways performing a similar function to those who traditionally travelled with the camel trains. The method, however, enables the Al-Rajhis to obtain their currency and gold at more favourable rates than the conventional banks, and as they also act as suppliers to the other moneychangers, they can obtain the standard discounts for bulk purchase.

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