RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aims to enhance its stock exchange appeal to foreign investors, targeting 17 percent ownership of free float shares by 2024, a new report has revealed.

According to the 2023 Financial Sector Development Program document, the Saudi Capital Market Authority plans to boost assets under management to 29.4 percent of gross domestic product by 2024 by increasing the investment environment and attracting more investors. 

The report, published annually, highlights the achievements in the financial sector, particularly the Kingdom’s ongoing progress in competitiveness indicators related to the capital market, as stated by Mohammed Al-Jadaan, minister of finance and chairman of the FSDP. 

Commenting on the development of the financial sector, Al-Jadaan emphasized the importance of innovation and investment in talent and technology.

“We have placed innovation and investment in both talent and technology at the top of our priorities, because we recognize the importance of building a dynamic financial environment that allows companies — especially startups — to flourish and succeed,” the minister stated. 

In line with its commitment to facilitating financing in the capital market, the CMA also plans to accelerate the pace of listings by welcoming 24 new companies in 2024. 

Moreover, there will be a focus on supporting the development of new and promising sectors, with a target of having micro and small enterprises account for 45 percent of total listings. 

Another area of emphasis is the deepening of the sukuk and debt instruments market, with the goal of increasing the debt-to-GDP ratio to 22.1 percent by the end of 2024. These measures aim to provide diverse financing options for companies and further stimulate economic growth. 

“The capital market ecosystem continued its efforts to contribute to developing the financial sector and achieving the Saudi Vision 2030,” stated Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, chairman of the CMA.  

“By approving rules for foreign investment in securities and streamlining regulatory procedures, we have witnessed a significant increase in foreign investments in the capital market, reaching SR401 billion ($106.9 billion),” El-Kuwaiz added. 

The Saudi Central Bank also reaffirmed its commitment to adhering to international standards and best practices to enhance the strength and stability of the financial sector.  

Initiatives such as developing digital solutions for supervising the financial sector and enabling local and international FinTechs demonstrate the Kingdom’s dedication to embracing technological advancements. 

Furthermore, the Financial Academy unveiled its new strategy for 2024-2026, focusing on enhancing human capabilities in the financial sector through training programs and professional certifications.  

The academy aims to increase the number of trainees and improve the quality of its services to meet the evolving needs of the industry. 

The 2023 FSDP report highlighted significant progress across sectors like fintech and digital banking.  

The Kingdom saw a surge in fintech companies, surpassing 2023 targets with 216 in operation and launching two digital banks.  

Saudi Arabia claimed the top spot in the Corporate Boards Index among G20 nations and secured second place in various indices. Foreign companies relocated headquarters to the Kingdom, deepening the capital market.  

Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P Global Ratings revised Saudi Arabia’s outlook to “Positive” and affirmed its “A1” and “A+” credit ratings, citing fiscal policy development, economic reforms, and structural improvements.  

Saudi Arabia led venture investments in the Middle East & North Africa, securing 52 percent of total investments in 2023, and allocated SR10 billion to support small and medium enterprises across economic activities and regions in the first half of the year. 

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