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Saudi Arabia's Capital Markets Authority: New Saudi regulator brings credibility

The appointment of former deputy central bank governor Jammaz Al-Suhaimi as chairman of Saudi Arabia's Capital Markets Authority looks set to accelerate the liberalization and broadening of the kingdom's financial markets.

Security outside diplomatic
compound in Riyadh: for the
first time, expatriates are
seriously concerned for their
personal safety

IT HAS BEEN a long time coming and there have been moments when some bankers feared it might not happen at all. But as Saudi Arabia struggles with defeating terrorism and rebuilding a fragile relationship with the US, once its strongest western ally, the modernizers among the country's ruling elite have at last won an important victory. The plans to revolutionize Saudi Arabia's financial sector, creating debt and equity markets operated to the highest international standards and allowing in international investment banks for the first time in many years, have finally struggled through the kingdom's bureaucratic wringer.

Now it remains to be seen how many foreign investors and bankers will be keen to take up the Saudi invitation, given recent terrorist killings of foreign workers.

Saudi Arabia might begin to reap the rewards later this year. Riyadh bankers report that a series of IPOs is planned for the next nine months. These include the privatization of insurance company NCCI and the flotation of shares in new insurance companies and the Saudi/UAE joint venture operating the second mobile phone licence.

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