Dubai has established an advisory group to help it encourage small businesses to list on a new stock market it aims to launch.

The market will be a subset of the Nasdaq Dubai, formerly the Dubai International Finance Exchange (DIFX). The exchange was originally intended to attract the largest listings in the region and international liquidity, but it has failed to do so and now has only nine companies listed, of which two are actively traded.

By focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the Nasdaq Dubai hopes to become a hub for capital raising by smaller companies that are increasingly the focus of government policy to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

The advisory group consists of bankers, lawyers, investor relations experts and Dubai SME, a division of Dubai Department of Economic Development that has been mandated to promote SMEs.

“The creation of an active equity market will act as a powerful driver for the continued growth of the SME sector,” said Abdul Baset al-Janahi, chief executive of Dubai SME. “Many SMEs are held back from achieving their natural growth path simply by lack of capital and an [initial public offering (IPO)] on Nasdaq Dubai offers an excellent route to expansion for the right companies.”