Sukuk has become a global trend, with countries increasingly finding it instrumental to develop their economies. This was among the conclusions stressed at the Eighth Euromoney Conference that ended here yesterday.
The conference,which was opened by Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, was attended by 1,200 senior financiers, business leaders and government officials. Housing Minister Shwaish Al-Duwaihy, Economy and Planning Minister Muhammed Al-Jasser and Abdullatif Al-Zayani also addressed the delegates at the inaugural ceremony.
More than 20 financial institutions including Bank Albilad, HSBC, Muscat Capital and Al-Rajhi Capital displayed their products and services at an exhibition that ran concurrently with the conference.
The panellists during the discussion highlighted the important role played by the stock exchange and sukuk in a nation's economy. They also observed the recovery of the global stock market reflected the economic recovery.
"The year 2012 was a banner year for sukuk, especially for the Kingdom," a speaker said.
In her speech, Rafiza Ghazzali,chief financial officer of the Cagamas-Malaysian National Mortgage Corporation, said her country was harnessing its state mortgage law to boost development in the real estate sector for the benefit of its economy. She pointed out that many of her country's economic policies reflected similarities of the Kingdom's economic efforts.
Ahmed Almeghames, secretary general of the Saudi organization for Certified Public Accountants, pledged that his department would work for the economic development of the country through its concerted efforts.
Paul Louis Gay, chief financial officer of Almarai, said: "Plans are under to turn the establishment into a global company, which will have its branches in Argentina, Ukraine and the United States." He pointed out that the organization would take a decision about globalization during the next three months. He added that such ventures would compel the organization to borrow funds from international banks. The company has long-term plans to expand its business to drinking water, ice cream and confectionery to boost healthy competitiveness in the local market.
Indicating a growth rate of 20 percent, he stated that the company intends investing some SR 6 billion in the next five years. The company, which has 120,000 milking cows and 20 million birds, will ensure food safety and security in all its products.
Abdullah Alsuwelimy, chief executive officer of Tadawul, said the stock exchange has plans to innovate new services to attract investors from the Gulf region. He said that last year, the Kingdom witnessed the issue of sukuk to the value of SR 15 billion, which was a record in the annals of the decade.
The market value of the Saudi financial market was SR 1.4 trillion at the end of 2012, up 10.19 percent compared to the market value recorded at the end of 2011.
Strategic plans helped open the market to foreigners on the recovery of the Saudi bourse in 2012 and pushed trading values to levels approaching SR 21 billion compared to the average values of trading going on between SR 5 billion and 6 billion during the current year.