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Time for a fresh look

By Hamed Ali Published on 11-Apr-2013

It’s been nearly four years since Time Magazine wondered excitedly if Greece was about to become ‘the next Dubai’. It was referring, of course, to the emirate’s perceived financial woes at the time, just as the scale of Athens’ own debts was starting to become clear.

How times change. Not only is Dubai’s economy advancing apace (3.7% GDP growth likely in 2013, IMF),  but the talk around town is once again of new building projects, an influx of professionals pushing up property prices, and needing to book at restaurants that used to have empty spaces. Perhaps most tellingly, Dubai entities are finding no shortage of buyers when they wish to tap the capital markets by issuing Sukuk or bonds.

Please don’t mistake my pointing out this good news as a sign of complacency. Far from it. We are all older and wiser than when the global debt crisis hit in 2008. And Dubai has a huge amount of work to do to realise its potential, and its ambitions, to expand further as an international economic and financial hub.

At NASDAQ Dubai we are relishing the prospect of playing our part. We can do this in many ways, and in this article I’ll focus on just one of them - fixed income.

The exchange is increasingly seen as the natural home for Dubai’s Sukuk listings, with Emaar and JAFZA coming on board last year, and DEWA and Emirates Airlines in just the last few days. No surprises there. We offer regional issuers all the advantages of an international exchange (global visibility, robust regulation etc), together with a listing in their home territory where they are best known and understood.

What is not so well known is that our fixed income plans go well beyond just offering a listing venue. At NASDAQ Dubai we’ve also been assessing the appetite in the market for on-exchange trading of Sukuk and bonds.

A trading platform makes perfect sense given our location. Dubai is the leading listing venue for Sukuk in the region and the third largest globally. With this critical mass, and a long term perspective, we have a good starting point for a platform that offers transparency, efficiency and low costs for trading fixed income products. Our model would provide excellent clearing and settlement links too.  

I’m pleased to report that there is huge interest in the idea among investors, brokers, and issuers. And that’s all I’ll say for the time being, but watch this space, as they say.

I claim no expertise as an economic pundit, and I don’t blame Time Magazine for calling it as it saw it back in 2009. Today, in 2013, Dubai's reality is much brighter and more active than it appeared to be then - more like the ‘real’ Dubai, as it were.  I am highly optimistic about Dubai’s future and NASDAQ Dubai's plans for expansion.    

About the author

Hamed Ali
Chief Executive Officer, Nasdaq Dubai
Hamed Ali

Mr Ali was appointed Chief Executive Officer in July 2013, after serving as Acting Chief Executive Officer since August 2012. He previously served as Executive Director of Nasdaq Dubai from 2006 to 2008. His experience includes serving as Chief Operating Officer of DIFC Authority and most recently as Executive Director at the Dubai Knowledge & Human Development Authority.

Mr Ali played a key role in the development of the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 and participated in number of strategy development exercises. These included Nasdaq Dubai’s strategy in 2006 where he had the role of overseeing the implementation of the Market of Markets strategy expanding the exchange’s activities beyond the equity and debt markets into derivatives and other sectors.

Mr Ali holds an Executive MBA from London Business School, a B.Sc. in Applied Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University, and a Master Certificate in Project Management.

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