Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce has approved Commercial Bank of Qatar’s request to raise its foreign ownership limit.

Foreign investors will now be able to hold 25 per cent of the bank’s total equity, an improvement on the standard limit of 25 per cent of free float, which signifies the amount that is available for trade on the secondary market.

Qatar Islamic Bank is planning a similar move.

Companies in the UAE and Qatar are increasingly seeking higher foreign ownership limits as both countries’ stock markets gear up for their MSCI upgrade to emerging markets status in May.

The index compiler sets out a minimum requirement of shares open for foreign trade, forcing companies to individually raise their levels if they want to be eligible for inclusion on the emerging markets index. The upgraded stocks are expected to attract around $1bn from foreign funds.