Pos­i­tive re­sponse from ma­jor for­eign in­vestors for Saudi mar­ket re­forms


JED­DAH: Saudi Ara­bia is “ahead of the curve” in the re­gion in at­tract­ing for­eign in­vest­ments to the lo­cal stock mar­ket, said Cap­i­tal Mar­ket Au­thor­ity (CMA) Vice-Chair­man Mo­hammed Ab­dul­lah Elkuwaiz.

“The Saudi mar­ket is very liq­uid and di­verse, and it is sus­tain­able,” he added.

He was speak­ing at the IFN Saudi Ara­bia Fo­rum, which dis­cussed the de­vel­op­ing trends and op­por­tu­ni­ties in Saudi Ara­bia’s Is­lamic fi­nance land­scape.

The re­sponse has been very pos­i­tive from Qual­i­fied For­eign Fi­nan­cial In­sti­tu­tions to CMA’s reg­u­la­tory and in­fra­struc­ture changes car­ried out af­ter pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions.

Saudi Ara­bia con­tin­ues to be one of the most ac­tive and in­flu­en­tial mar­kets in Is­lamic fi­nance to­day and cer­tainly the big­gest in the Gulf, or­ga­niz­ers said.

Red­money Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor An­drew Teb­butt said the ob­jec­tive of the in­ter­na­tional me­dia com­pany based in Malaysia and the UAE is to bring in­dus­try lead­ers, reg­u­la­tors, in­ter­me­di­aries and as­set man­agers un­der one roof.

“The Saudi mar­ket is lib­er­al­iz­ing faster than ever,” said Teb­butt.

He said that in­vestors are be­com­ing more con­fi­dent to in­vest across the King­dom, thanks to the strong reg­u­la­tory frame­work en­vi­ron­ment pro­vided by Saudi Ara­bian Mon­e­tary Agency (SAMA) and the Cap­i­tal Mar­ket Au­thor­ity (CMA).

High­light­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the gath­er­ing, Mah­moud E. Ab­del-Baky, coun­sel at the Law Firm of Wael A. Alissa, told Arab News that Saudi Vi­sion 2030 has opened up new op­por­tu­ni­ties for the busi­ness sec­tor these days and banks have been step­ping up their ef­forts to pro­vide fi­nanc­ing to ma­jor pri­vate sec­tor projects.

Raafat O. Wakid, port­fo­lio man­ager at Safa In­vest­ment Ser­vices SA, who is at­tend­ing the fo­rum for the sec­ond time, com­mented that lo­cal, global Is­lamic fi­nance fund man­agers and le­gal peo­ple could help ex­plore Is­lamic fi­nance po­ten­tial.

“We are work­ing only on Is­lamic prod­ucts and Shariah-com­pli­ant in­vest­ment. We are here to fol­low up with our clients. Most of our clients are Saudi na­tion­als,” he added.

Naim Azad Din, deputy CEO and head of as­set man­age­ment divi­sion, at Sidra Cap­i­tal, said real es­tate in­vest­ment is get­ting bet­ter and con­cerned peo­ple are be­com­ing more com­fort­able.

There is a huge in­ter­est in new prod­ucts from in­vestors, he said, adding that Saudi Ara­bia was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion of cap­i­tal mar­ket growth.

Arif Rahim, vice pres­i­dent-head of in­vest­ment strat­egy at as­set man­age­ment divi­sion, at Sidra Cap­i­tal, said: “We are get­ting a good over­view from dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers. Change is quite fun­da­men­tal in terms of in­vest­ment in Saudi Ara­bia. The CMA is do­ing a great job in stream­lin­ing reg­u­la­tions.”

He said that in­vestors have be­come cau­tious and de­mand more in terms of trans­parency. Saudi Ara­bia is a very di­verse mar­ket with a lot of liq­uid­ity, he added.

Jawad I. Ali, man­ag­ing part­ner-Mid­dle East of­fices at King & Spalding, said: “We take these con­fer­ences to dif­fer­ent cities. We choose top­ics that al­ways en­gage with reg­u­la­tors. How­ever, reg­u­la­tions have not reached up to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. The CMA ba­si­cally is try­ing to set up an in­fra­struc­ture for in­vest­ment.”

CMA Vice Chair­man Mo­hammed Ab­dul­lah Elkuwaiz

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