Does the Gulf’s breakout year signal lasting change?
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Does the Gulf’s breakout year signal lasting change?

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There was no Aramco-sized blockbuster offering, but the Middle East’s capital markets were awash with plus-sized IPOs in 2022. A growing belief in its future – aided by high oil prices and diversity from hydrocarbons – is compelling investment banks to hire across the region’s big-three markets: Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

For years the Middle East flirted with becoming a capital markets power, without ever quite succeeding.

All too often, the region was its own worst enemy. A successful share listing might trigger a headlong rush of similar offerings, overwhelming markets and compelling wary investors to retreat. Some stock offerings were badly managed; others were stymied by a poor economic backdrop and low oil prices.

Often, geopolitics was a disruptive force. In 2017, Emaar Development completed the largest initial public offering in Dubai for three years, raising $1.3 billion. Yet it was nearly derailed when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) launched a corruption crackdown that ensnared billionaires and ministers. Emaar’s stock fell 4.3% on day one and has never traded above its IPO price of Dh6.03 ($1.64).

But it feels like a corner was turned in 2022.

In the current year to December 8, a total of 47 IPOs were completed in the region, raising $20.6 billion, according to data from Dealogic.


Elliot Wilson headshot.jpg
Asia editor and Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor
Elliot Wilson is Asia editor and Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor. He joined the magazine in 2020 having been a regular contributor focusing on China and the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Eastern Europe/the CIS. He is based in Hong Kong.
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