The value of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the Middle East has fallen by 33 per cent in the past year, from $61.7bn in 2008 to $41.9bn in 2009, according to the latest figures by UK-based research firm Zephyr-Bureau van Dijk.

The total number of deals in the Middle East fell from 729 in 2008 to 487 in 2009, making the Middle East one of the smallest markets for M&A transactions in the world, in terms of volume and value.

The UAE was the most active market in the region in 2009, overtaking Egypt which had been the leader in 2008.

In 2009, there were $633m worth of deals in the UAE, while in Egypt there were $284m worth of deals.

The total value of private equity deals in the region has also fallen dramatically over the past 12 months, with $2.8bn of deals completed in 2008 compared to $1.3bn in 2009.