Gulf markets approach maturity

Chris Wright
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The region’s markets are growing rapidly, and might even hit new highs this year. Meanwhile, a patchy record in growth and some important issuer absences do not seem to trouble international investors.

Was this the quarter when the Middle East came of age in the capital markets? Issuance from the region is on track for an all-time record this year, and it’s not just volume that is catching the eye: there are new tenors, a fondness for lower-rated and debut credits, and an increasingly fervent bid for Islamic paper.

According to Dealogic, Middle East DCM hit $30.46 billion-equivalent in the first six months of this year, up from $26.2 billion in the same period of 2013 and just $13.13 billion during the first half of 2011. The market is already three-fifths of the way to the full-year record $50.79 billion set in 2012. "It’s tough to project," says Salman Ansari, head of debt capital markets, Menap at Standard Chartered. "We were looking at a record last year, and then the markets shut for a few months. But if macro conditions...