The UAE and Qatar’s stock markets need more listings related to the real economy, said Nabil al-Rantisi, managing director of the local Menacorp’s brokerage, at the AFE Equities Summit in Dubai on 4 June.

“We need fresh listings that people on the street can relate to. We’d like to see more segments such as health, communications, food and beverage, and tourism in order to become more interesting to investors. We also need bigger listings such as by government entities,” he said.

He added that the draft Companies Law, which proposes to lower the free float requirement from 55 to 30 per cent on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and Dubai Financial Market, could help convince some business owners to take the plunge when it comes into effect.

But the lower free float minimum already applies to family-owned businesses, many of which do not yet feel the need to raise funding through public markets.

Eric Bertrand, principal exchange business strategy consultant for NYSE Euronext, said in a separate panel session that to spur more listings, authorities need to fund small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“Funding SMEs is the only way to fuel the economy and create jobs,” he said. “This has to be done in the private sector, which is underdeveloped in the region. There is now a dilemma as IPOs [initial public offerings] are not a criteria to receive another MSCI upgrade – do we target the next level, or do we focus on creating jobs for the next generation? There’s a sort of dichotomy here that’s not easy to solve.”