Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's biggest economy, won't allow foreign investors direct access to the local bourse any time soon, while joining the MSCI index isn't a priority, the chairman of the country's stock market watchdog said yesterday.
"We are maintaining the same stand that the matter of opening the market for foreign investors isn't up for discussion," Abdul Rahman Al Twaijri, chairman of the Capital Market Authority, or CMA, said at a meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council officials in Dubai.
Al Twaijri said the kingdom's stock exchange becoming a component of the MSCI index "isn't a priority to us" at present.
"Joining the MSCI is a process and it's not a must for us," he added.
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The regulator's chairman in May said the local stock market, Tadawul, was in talks with international index providers to become a component of their offerings.
The UAE and Qatar are the two other Gulf Cooperation Council countries seeking to secure emerging market status from the MSCI.
Saudi Arabia's bourse is one of the least accessible markets in the region, and due to stringent foreign investment rules has remained dominated by local retail investors.
Last year, the CMA allowed Falcom Financial Services to offer the kingdom's first exchange traded fund, or ETF, and list it on the Arab world's largest exchange. Exchange traded funds are open-ended index funds listed and traded on exchanges like stocks.
Al Twaijri yesterday also said the CMA was in the processing of studying numerous applications from local companies seeking to launch initial public offerings.
"We are studying their files in order to give the go ahead for them to launch an IPO. We want more family companies to join the market and launch IPOs," Al Tuwaijri said without providing any further details.