Muscat: A call for an increase in trading volume rather than an increase in share price was put forth by Dr Fadi Khalaf, secretary-general of the Arab Federation of Exchanges (AFE).
Speaking at the annual conference of the AFE, which kicked off yesterday, Dr Khalaf asserted, "With the exception of Saudi Arabia, where share turnover stands at 138 per cent and which holds 84 per cent of the shares traded in the region, the turnover of the Arab stock exchanges is low."
Dr Khalaf observed, "The 358 million people in the Arab region, where the youth represent 70 per cent of the population, produce more than $1.9 trillion in national income. The Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC) states alone represent a $1 trillion economy, which is nearly the value of the economy of India."
Dr Khalaf said, "We shouldered our share of the burden of the international crisis; however, we somewhat withstood the global impact of the [downturn in the] capital markets. As a result of a few geopolitical issues, we have failed to cope adequately in comparison with some others in compensating for the losses. The world equity markets have compensated 65.53 per cent of their losses since the [start of the] international crisis, but the Arab stock markets have compensated only 19.82 per cent of such losses."
Dr Khalaf remarked, "The 17-member stock exchanges of the Arab Federation of Exchanges netted in 2012 a market capitalisation of more than $940 billion. Saudi Arabia took first place with market capitalisation of $373 billion, followed by Qatar with $126 billion, Kuwait with $104 billion, and the United Arab Emirates with about $128 billion. The Gulf stock markets, including Oman and Bahrain, recorded market capitalisation at $779 billion; that is more than 82 per cent of the Arab stock exchanges."
He added, "The issue of the market capitalisation of oil-exporting Gulf countries highlights some important aspects, such as the evidence of close ties between our stock exchanges and the economies of industrial oil-importing countries, whose economies have begun to recover. On the link between the Gulf's stock exchanges, the Gulf region has taken mega strides in the field of economic integration, such as the [introduction of the] customs union (2003), the joint markets (2007), and the Regional Central Bank (2009). The Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council will no doubt extend further efforts to ensure gradual economic integration."