The United Arab Emirates central bank is studying ways to replace the local interbank rate, three sources said, as it tries to catch up with global regulators who have called time on such benchmarks after banks' attempts to rig them.
The UAE is looking at potential replacements for EIBOR - the Emirates Interbank Offered Rate which is used to price financial instruments in the Gulf’s top financial centre - and has started consultations with commercial banks in recent weeks, said three sources familiar with the matter.
The London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) and other similar "IBOR" benchmark rates are based on quotes from banks on how much it would cost to borrow money from each other. These rates are used to calculate interest on several types of financial transactions such as bonds and loans.
Widespread use of such rates is meant to end by the end of this year and global regulators plan to replace them with alternative benchmarks after a global rate-rigging scandal that began to unfold about 10 years ago.
"This is very early days, very consultative," said one of the sources, adding that the UAE process may take more than a year.
The source was speaking on condition of anonymity as the process to replace EIBOR has not been announced publicly.
"As the world changes, the UAE has to change as well. Because of scandals with Libor, you want to show a comparative rate," said the same source.
The UAE central bank, which administers EIBOR, did not respond to requests for comment.
Libor contracts are being switched to "risk-free" overnight rates compiled by central banks, such as Sofr from the U.S. Federal Reserve and Sonia at the Bank of England.
The UAE consultations are taking place as the country tries to align its financial system with international standards on aspects such as anti-money laundering and sanctions and seeks to bolster its status as the Middle East's commercial hub.