Beyond the Bazaar

Arab entrepreneurs are thinking big, outsmarting regulators and terrorists--not to mention the skeptics

With all the turmoil in the Middle East, few took much notice when Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris signed a deal last December involving a firm from a neighboring country. This was no routine transaction. Sawiris, CEO of Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, in Cairo, purchased 9.9% of Partner Telecommunications Co. Ltd., in Tel Aviv, considered to be the biggest investment, valued at $150 million, ever made in the Jewish state by an investor from an Arab country. Sawiris expected the rebukes he received from some fellow Arabs for doing business with Israelis even as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict still rages. But he insists that such deals will...

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