The lack of initial public offerings (IPOs) launched on Qatar’s stock exchange is an issue that should be tackled by the government, says Nicholas Wilson, chairman of the London-listed Qatar Investment Fund.

“The government has to actively encourage family businesses, locally-owned state firms or aspects of state companies to launch IPOs,” he told delegates at the Euromoney Qatar conference held in Doha on 10-11 December.

He added that since the fund was established in 2007, the Qatari exchange “has come on leaps and bounds and the market has better depth,” but noted that there are still a limited number of listed stocks when compared with other markets.

“Tackling the liquidity problem so foreign investors can get a foothold will take a while,” he said.

Earlier this year, Qatar was upgraded by the US-based index compiler MSCI from frontier to emerging market status. Wilson says this upgrade will help.

“The move to emerging market [status] has huge implications in the long term,” he says.