Saudi Arabia is opening its $530 billion stock market to foreign investors for the first time in a move meant to shift its economy away from dependence on oil revenue. News of this expansion, slated for the first half of 2015, sparked a nearly 3% uptick in the Tadawul at close yesterday.
Given that Saudi Arabia’s stock market is the second largest in the world to be closed to foreigners (No. 1 is China’s), it’s no surprise there is already early interest from investors looking to tap into the Middle East’s blue chip companies. While foreigners have been able to buy Saudi stocks by swapping with international banks through exchange-traded funds, the process is far less efficient than the direct investments that will be available to foreign investors next year.