The Risk Advisory Group (TRAG) has created a specialist Middle East and North Africa practice in its London office to provide an integrated risk consultancy and advisory service for investors and traders with interests in the region.

TRAG claims the Middle East and North Africa present significant opportunities for many business sectors. In addition to potential for the oil and gas sector, there is significant opportunity in the construction, infrastructure, telecoms, consumer goods and tourism industries.

The new practice will be led by Martin Stone, who has more than 15 years experience working in the Middle East-related consulting field at Aon, Deloitte & Touche and a management consultancy.

He is joined by James Drummond, the former Financial Times correspondent in Baghdad and Cairo, together with two regional risk specialists Christina Corbett and Lucy Norton.

The practice will be supported by David Claridge, managing director of Janusian, TRAG’s security risk management subsidiary, and TRAG’s joint venture partners in Saudi Arabia and Iraq for security risk management.

Bill Waite, TRAG’s chief executive, says: “Our new practice has a strong, experienced team who are well-placed in an area with high business potential. Cities such as Dubai are among the fastest-growing in the world, with huge development in financial services, tourism and aviation and international companies increasingly establishing regional hubs in the area.

“However, these are potentially intricate markets and western business practices can conflict with local law, local custom and, in some instances, religion. There is a dearth of reliable public record information, making research difficult. The threats to the security of assets and people posed by political instability, tensions between the Arab states and Israel, and terrorism add new layers of complexity to the business planning process.

“This development continues TRAG’s international expansion and we are pleased to add such a valuable practice to our portfolio, at a point where businesses increasingly need our services as they are entering new, higher-risk markets.”