Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX) has announced it will begin its multi-asset exchange on 7 February 2011.

BFX will adopt a phased approach to its trading to enable market participants enough time to market and develop business on the exchange’s Islamic sector. Bait al-Bursa, the Islamic division, will begin its electronic trading platform e-Tayseer on 7 February and its conventional segment will start a month later on 7 March.

Jignesh Shah, chairman of the BFX says: “The first day of tradition for the Bahrain Financial Exchange will be a momentous event for the financial services industry in Middle East and North Africa… we recognised there was a gap in the market, that the financial sector needs a multi-asset exchange to be able to fulfill its international potential.”

It is the first exchange of its kind in the region and was initially scheduled for launch in the first quarter of last year. It offers Islamic products, currencies, commodities and equity indices.

“Increasing sophistication in the Middle East capital markets is demonstrated by this significant development from the Bahrain Financial Exchange. This initiative was required by Bahrain in order to compete with other developing markets in the Middle East and now the country must hope that there is sufficient liquidity on the market to make good use of such a diversified trading architecture,” says Andrew Tarbuck, capital markets partner at international law firm Latham & Watkins.