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Bahrain Crisis Short-Term Blip: Investment Fund

The mass protests in Bahrain will make the country stronger and not lead to the fall of the ruling royal family, the boss of Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund has told CNBC.

Protesters run from a cloud of teargas during a clash with Bahraini security forces near the Pearl roundabout in Manama, Bahrain. Protesters said that the army fired on them with live rounds, followed by teargas which drove the demonstrators back. There are unconfirmed reports that there are four dead in the clashes.
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Protesters run from a cloud of teargas during a clash with Bahraini security forces near the Pearl roundabout in Manama, Bahrain. Protesters said that the army fired on them with live rounds, followed by teargas which drove the demonstrators back. There are unconfirmed reports that there are four dead in the clashes.

The Bahrain royal family has attempted to draw the sting out of mass protests by opening a dialogue with protesters but thousands of people took to the streets of the Bahrain capital Tuesday night and more are expected Wednesday night.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has offered her support for the talks but called on the ruling royal family to ensure words are matched with deeds.

"These steps will need to be followed by concrete actions and reforms. We urge all parties to work quickly so that a national dialogue can produce meaningful measures that respond to the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain," Clinton said.

"There is no place for violence against peaceful protesters."

23 people were arrested during recent protests and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa is meeting with the Saudi King in Riyadh to discuss the crisis in the strategically important country that is home of the US 5th fleet.

In an exclusive interview Talal Al Zain, the Chief Executive Officer of Mumtalakat said the events of the last 10 days, which have spooked investors in the country and wider region, will be a short-term blip that will ultimately make the country stronger.

"This will be a short-term event that, when the national dialogue led by the Crown Prince begins, will see Bahrain come out as a much stronger country, and this will be reflected in the stock market as well," Al Zain said.

Mumtalakat was downgraded by S&P yesterday due to the ongoing crisis; its CEO said the move was understandable.

"This was a natural move from the ratings agencies, we are still investment grade and the move will be short-term," Al Zain said.

"What you have seen in Bahrain over the last 10 years is significant reform. This process now needs to be accelerated with more transparency and a better legal system."

The crisis would not see a change in Mumtalakat's investment strategies, Al Zain said.

"We are a long-term strategic investor, we look at the long-term, short term events and blips do not change our strategy," he said.

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