The UAE has to wait another six months before finding out whether it is eligible for an upgrade to emerging market status, index compiler MSCI announced in its latest classification review early on Wednesday morning.
Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) said the review period had been extended until December to give additional time for market participants to “assess the impact of the recent positive changes implemented” in the UAE and Qatar.
Institutional investors welcomed the implementation of new delivery versus payment (DvP) settlement models on the Dubai Financial Market, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and the Qatar Exchange, MSCI said in a statement posted on its website.
However, the index provider said the issue of foreign ownership limits remains a concern, especially in Qatar.
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The UAE, which is currently classified as a "frontier market", allows foreign direct investments (FDIs) of up to 49 per cent.
However, it is up to each individual company to decide whether it opens up to such levels of overseas ownership.
Qatar has not upped its foreign ownership limit from 25 per cent to 49 per cent, a prerequisite to an MSCI upgrade to emerging market status.
“Given that the new DvP models were introduced only in May 2011, few market participants have had the opportunity to make a full assessment yet,” the MSCI said in a statement.
“International investors continue also to be concerned by the effect of stringent foreign ownership limits such as limited availability of shares to foreign investors. This point has been more strongly voiced for the Qatari market as large companies, such as Industries Qatar, have almost reached their foreign ownership limit and became quasi-uninvestable for foreign investors,” MSCI said.