Recently, the Saudi Stock Exchange has transferred its operations to Nasdaq’s X-stream INET trading platform – becoming the first exchange in the Middle East and only the fourth globally to implement the world’s fastest recorded trading engine.
This technology transformation is an important step for us and it comes at the end of more than four years of hard work by the team at Nasdaq, my colleagues here at the Stock Exchange and from the market participants in our community who helped to make sure the transition goes smoothly. It is a good time for us to thank everyone for all the effort they have gone to in getting us to this point. The new trading platform will make an important difference and enable us to offer a truly world class service to the businesses, investors and brokers that operate in our market.
The increased interest in investing in the Saudi market and the growth in the number of companies on the market means greater demand on our systems. This is why it is important to us to leverage a scalable solution that is also fast enough to help attract serious investors. Also, as we look to develop the exchange it is important that we are able to continually improve its functionality, availability, reliability and reduce operational costs – something that this platform enables us to do.
However, for us, today’s announcement is about more than just the fact that we have transferred our operations onto a new trading platform. It is also a further step in our programme to enhance the professionalization and sophistication of the market a programme that is designed to benefit listed companies, authorized persons, retail and institutional investors.
As part of this journey, in June this year, the market was opened to direct international investment for the first time. The aim of our qualified foreign investor programme is to attract international investors to continue the development of the market, to enhance stability, to improve governance among listed businesses and improve research and knowledge in the market. This will benefit companies – who will gain the expertise of some of the world’s leading investors – as well as existing investors – who will benefit from a market that is more stable and where prices are increasingly driven by research and knowledge.
This programme is also important to Saudi Arabia as a whole, because it forms an important part of the Kingdom’s wider development. A more sophisticated stock market can play an important role in helping to create jobs and continue the diversification of the economy.
Finally it is important for international investors. Saudi Arabia is the powerhouse of the GCC representing around 50% of what is now a $1.6 trillion market – a region that is playing an increasingly prominent role in the global economy. The opening up of the Saudi stock market represents an opportunity to gain access to one of the largest emerging market exchanges in the world.
Each of these steps is a part of the journey, not the end point, but today’s move to a world class trading platform will give investors and other market participants the leading platform that an exchange – and an economy – of this global importance deserves.