HAMED ALI

Dubai 2020 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

Investors have more reason than ever to make Dubai their launch pad for smart investments in the region.

Hamed Ali
BIOGRAPHY

Hamed Ali was appointed CEO in 2013 after serving as acting CEO since 2012. Under his leadership, Nasdaq Dubai launched equity derivatives on UAE stocks in 2016 and on Saudi stocks in 2019. Nasdaq Dubai is now one of the largest exchanges in the world for sukuk listings and has created an active Murabaha financing platform. The exchange has also pioneered the UAE's listed REITs market. The exchange's MarketSite event space, launched in 2018, has also become a leading venue for thought leadership and media activity. Ali previously served as executive director of Nasdaq Dubai from 2006-2008. His experience includes serving as chief operating officer of DIFC Authority and as executive director of the Dubai Knowledge & Human Development Authority.

How has Nasdaq Dubai expanded and diversified in recent months?
We have had a successful year on many fronts. Equities traded value increased by 38% compared on 2018, while on the fixed-income side, Dubai is now the largest regional venue for foreign currency debt listings. Our sukuk market continues to expand with over USD14 billion from 17 listings. Dubai is now home to USD64 billion in sukuk listings, which makes it one of the largest venues globally for that asset class. We have attracted 54% of that value from outside the country, while the UAE accounts for 46%, indicating a healthy national and international balance. We have also listed six conventional bonds during 2019. Leading banks from China are continuing to list their bonds with us, underlining our role as the go-to jurisdiction in the region for hosting Chinese debt issuers. In further diversification, in 2019 we expanded our equity derivatives market. Firstly, we introduced derivatives on the Saudi Arabian market, which makes us one of the only exchanges in the region to offer derivatives in both its own and in regional markets. We initially created single stock futures on 12 Saudi Arabian companies in January 2019 before launching futures on the MSCI UAE Index in line with our license from MSCI to launch futures on their regional indices. We also took that template to partner with FTSE Russell, which led to us creating futures on the FTSE Saudi Arabia Index. We are pleased with how the derivatives market has grown since we launched it in 2016. It now consists of 33 products, comprising 17 UAE single stock futures as well as our Saudi single stock futures and futures on four different indices. Our Murabaha solution for Islamic financing was also very active during the year. This platform, launched with Emirates Islamic and utilizing our central securities depository, is one of our key initiatives that enhance Dubai's Islamic finance offerings. Murabaha facilitates Islamic banks to offer borrowers sharia-compliant financing. Previously, there was no similar platform that could facilitate this in the region. To date, the platform has executed some USD157 billion in transactions.

What other markets and jurisdictions is Nasdaq Dubai looking to expand into?
We are predominantly active in the Middle East and have growing activities in Asian markets. We also create a mix that allows investors from the rest of the world, such as the US and Europe, to participate. In equities, 37% of our liquidity comes from the US, which is substantial. We have 30% coming from Europe, 6% from Asia, and the rest from the Middle East and Africa. This gives issuers an excellent platform to access the world. We have equity issuers from Asia, the US, Europe, and Africa. There is room for growth in equities, especially in a region such as ours that is predominantly debt focused. Fixed income and new product development will also remain a major growth driver for us. We will expand our issuer base, which already includes excellent representation from the region with companies from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain listed with us, as well as the UAE. Outside the region, we have debt listings from the Indonesian and Hong Kong governments as well as China and look forward to attracting more.

What is your vision for Nasdaq Dubai in 2020 and beyond?
Expo 2020 will give Dubai an unprecedented international reach. We are looking at companies that could benefit from Dubai as a platform, and the expo is a fantastic time for them to assess their options from a capital markets perspective. The driving question is how we add value and ensure that whoever comes to Dubai during the event sees the true potential and capacity here. If Nasdaq Dubai can help a company take its ideas to an audience that stretches from the US to China and get them excited, then we have done our part in being a launch pad for businesses to reach new investors.