In the Arab world, countries in the Levant and North Africa were way ahead of the GCC when it came to establishing their financial markets. For example, Egypt formed the Alexandria and Cairo stock exchanges in 1902 and 1904, respectively, and Morocco formed the Casablanca Stock Exchange in 1929. Meanwhile, the Saudi stock exchange wasn’t established until 2007, nearly 80 years later. However, today Saudi’s Tadawul is the biggest stock market in the Arab world, with a market cap worth more than all stocks on all other exchanges in the region.
Over the past two decades, the GCC countries have made great strides, and their financial sectors have undergone a significant transformation. Saudi Arabia established its Capital Markets Authority in 2003, which has helped shape the investment banking and asset management industry. And the U.A.E. and Qatar have both established financial zones and world-class regulatory infrastructure. All of these were strong steps towards building a solid foundation for the capital markets. Additionally, Saudi Aramco’s IPO, which was the biggest IPO in the world, helped propel the region’s financial markets.
Asset management companies are the gateway for most individual investors to their savings. Asset managers invest customers’ capital in companies listed on stock exchanges, bonds, as well as real estate and private equity. They use their expertise to maximize returns for their customers. Most of them also act as brokers for their clients to invest directly and offer investment banking and other advisory services.
In our first list of the Middle East’s 30 Biggest Asset Managers, Saudi Arabia dominates with 16 entries. It is followed by the U.A.E. with five, and Bahrain and Egypt with three each. Saudi’s NCB capital, with assets under management worth more than $50 billion, tops the list, followed by Bahrain’s Investcorp.