Gulf private equity firms are estimated to have invested more than $5,000 million outside the region. ‘Fund managers think of the region as a source of funds but the vacuum cleaner approach is coming to an end. The challenge is to keep liquidity in the region,’ Naqvi said.

The region has $9,000 million-10,000 million available to invest in private equity funds, Dubai International Capital CEO Sameer al-Ansari told the conference.

‘Consolidations, cross-border transactions and family business transitions should all bode well for the industry,’ Shuaa Capital CEO Iyad Duwajji said before the conference. ‘There are more and more transactions and more deal flow.’ There are about 5,000 family businesses in the GCC with assets of about $500,000 million, which account for 75 per cent of the private sector.