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Lebanon 2017 | FINANCE | COLUMN

TBY talks to Dr. Fadi Khalaf, Secretary General, Arab Federation of Exchanges (AFE), on the sector.

Dr. Fadi Khalaf

AFE was established in 1978 by the League of Arab States. Why did the federation decide to base itself in Lebanon?

It was supposed to be established in Lebanon in 1982. It wanted to be established in Beirut, a move that was postponed due to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, so it went to Jordan, where it stayed for several years before moving to Cairo. After a few years it moved to Beirut in 2001. International companies wanted to come to Beirut because it is an open city.

How do you foresee performance in 2017?

In 2016, we saw a lot of fluctuation in oil prices, which affected the Gulf countries, and when the Gulf countries' stock exchanges are affected, there is a knock-on effect on the other exchanges in the region. In 2016, we reached USD23 per barrel, and this volatility unsurprisingly impacted liquidity in the region. Looking ahead to 2017, we are expecting more stable oil prices, between USD50 and USD60, which, compared to the previous fluctuations, is very welcome. Saudi is doing a lot this year in opening its market, which optimists say will positively impact the region by drawing in more international investors. Either way, we expect a positive year with more liquidity in the region.