The Middle East is home to more oil and more big money pools than anywhere else on earth. Nearly a trillion dollars is being spent on new roads, cellphone users are surging 24 percent a year, and only 10 percent of people have bank accounts. That means there's money to be made.
I'm glad to be back in the Middle East. We've been traveling through the region for the past few years and this time, we're tackling some of the issues people often wonder about but don't always feel comfortable talking about: women, terrorism and the innovation gap.
On this trip we visited Dubai, Riyadh and Jordan. We spent time at the biggest purse horse race in the world in Dubai to get the down low on how things are in the emirate. And we spent time with Prince Alwaleed and the chief of investments in Saudi Arabia.
The takeaways? Saudi Arabia is knocking on wood hoping oil prices stay near $80 a barrel—they thought they'd be lower. Alwaleed is sure, this time, that Citigroup's worst days are behind it. He says CEO Vikram Pandit is "like a calculator" and a good CEO.
And in Dubai? There are plenty of jokes about how much money was spent on the half time event at that horse race. "There goes another million," someone said to me, half kidding. But again, the hotels were full and at the Atlantis resort it was a zoo of Europeans on their winter vacation. Dubai is a shopping, partying and athletic destination.
Now to our live coverage on Wednesday. Before there was Dubai, there was Petra. It was the financial capital of the Middle East—and the world. On our special shows, which we're calling "Big Money in the Middle East," we bring together billionaires to discuss the region's biggest opportunities and challenges.
Those billionaires will join us on "Street Signs" at 2 pm Eastern. They are two of the most significant investors in region—making lots of money and they'll tell you how. American Tom Barrack's Colony Capital owns the Atlantis Dubai and other hotels, supermarkets, movie theaters and gyms across the Middle East. Nassef Sawiris is the richest man in Egypt and CEO of the largest construction company in the Middle East.
We're also adding Israeli and Arab entrpreneurs—together—to talk about innovation and bridging the gap between Israel and the Arab world. Also joining us: Yahoo . The company bought Maktoob, the Arab version of the social networking phenonemon Facebook. Just 1 percent of the world's Internet content is in Arabic. That's right, just 1 percent. That number makes an important statement: With the fastest growing youth population in the world, this is just the iceberg.
And yes, we'll talk about investing in Iran.
We hope you'll join us for "Squawk on the Street" at 9 am Eastern and our special edition of "Street Signs" at 2 pm Eastern. And, next week, on Thursday, April 8, at 8 pm Eastern for our primetime special "Big Money in the Middle East." (You can read more information about the show here).