Riyadh named Middle East’s top financial centre

Riyadh has been named the Middle East’s top financial centre ahead of Saudi Arabia’s plans to open its $509 billion stock exchange to foreign investors.

Z/Yen Group’s 17th Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 17), which rates 82 financial centres around the world, ranked Riyadh at 14th globally, a rise of six places on last year’s list.

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority announced plans last year to open its stock exchange, Tadawul All Share Index, during the first half of 2015.

The opening of the Saudi market is one of the most keenly awaited economic reforms in the world’s biggest oil exporter. The bourse would be one of the world’s last major exchanges to begin welcoming foreign money.

Currently, foreigners are limited to buying Saudi stocks via swaps involving international banks and through a small number of exchange-traded funds, which are relatively expensive and inconvenient options.

The Z/Yen list showed that Riyadh has overtaken Doha as the best financial centre in the Middle East, despite the Qatar Financial Centre rising two places to 20th.

The list also showed that Dubai slipped six places to 23rd compared to last year while Abu Dhabi was ranked 26th, down seven places and Bahrain 46th, up six places.

Dubai was ranked ninth in the financial sector development sector while Abu Dhabi was placed ninth for business environment. The factors used in the GFCI model include five key areas of competitiveness – business environment, financial sector development, infrastructure, human capital and reputational and general factors.

Globally, New York, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore remained the four leading global financial centres.

New York retained its status as No. 1, though by only one point on the 1,000 point scale with Tokyo, in fifth place, just 32 points behind the leader.

GFCI 17 Top Ten Centres:

1 New York

2 London

3 Hong Kong

4 Singapore

5 Tokyo

6 Zurich

7 Seoul

8 San Francisco

9 Chicago

10 Boston

GFCI 17 used 28,494 financial centre assessments completed by 3,527 financial services professionals, said Z/Yen Group in a statement.

It said GFCI ratings are slightly up overall and volatility in ratings remains low, with nine of the top ten centres increasing their ratings.

Mark Yeandle, associate director at the Z/Yen Group and the author of the GFCI said: “The average rating of the top five Asian centres is now higher than the average rating of the top five Western centres. The variance of the ratings is also shrinking rapidly ­ things are certainly getting more competitive.”

Published by ArabianBusiness

On 28 March 2015

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