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UAE looks forward to regulation

The credibility of the UAE's stock market continues to be affected by the lack of a settlement, clearing and custody system - leaving it highly unregulated, devoid of transparency and subject to manipulation. But, Nigel Dudley reports, a regulatory system now seems on the way

After almost 20 years of discussions, the UAE looks set to have a properly regulated stock exchange by the end of the year. For bankers such as Khalid Kalban, general manager of Dubai Investments, who have campaigned for this since the early 1980s, there is still a whiff of unreality about it all. In the past, says Kalban: "Every time it looked like becoming a reality, something happened that stopped it."

However, it looks increasingly likely that an official exchange will finally be created and replace the volatile and unregulated over-the-counter market. Although no clear-cut schedule has yet been announced, legislation and a structure have been agreed, encouraging bankers such as Kalban to believe that the new structure may be fully in place by the end of the year.

This will not be a moment too soon. The UAE needs a well-managed, stable capital market if it is to make the most of the dramatic shift in policy whereby the private sector is now to take a dominant role in the UAE's economic development.

This in part reflects the mood swing across the Gulf that the state should act more as a regulator and less as an owner in the region's evolution.

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