A further four Abu Dhabi-based companies could be added to the MSCI index before mid-2015, says Rashed al-Blooshi, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX).

The UAE and Qatar were upgraded from frontier to emerging market status in June last year by US index compiler MSCI, a move that opened up the countries to a range of new investors.

A total of nine firms listed on the ADX or the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) were selected by MSCI last May to join the index.

The Abu Dhabi-based companies included Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), property developer Aldar and National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD).

These firms were selected due to their size, liquidity and openness to foreign investment.

Al-Blooshi tells MEED the ADX is entering a second phase in its relationship with MSCI, and negotiations are progressing on adding more companies to the index.

“We are very close with a few companies,” he says. “We can possibly do four firms by summer.”

The MSCI upgrade helped attract additional foreign investment to the exchange last year and forms part of the ADX’s strategy to draw in more institutional investors.

By the end of 2014, foreign investment in the ADX jumped to AED3.5bn ($952.9m) from AED2bn in 2014.

“This is a 75 per cent increase, so foreigners are investing,” says Al-Blooshi.

He added that the process of the ADX joining the MSCI index has helped improve the exchange’s standards.

Last year, a total of nine UAE stocks and 10 Qatar stocks were added to the MSCI index.

Follow Rebecca Spong on Twitter: @Rebecca_MEED