The Iraq Stock Exchange has been boosted by the recent Asiacell listing, but chief executive Taha Ahmed Abdulsalam Al Rubaye says that outdated regulations and the absence of proper capital markets and companies legislation is hampering growth in one of the world’s most exciting emerging markets
On the face of it, Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) CEO Taha Ahmed Abdulsalam Al Rubaye is in a plum position to impress: with the country’s economy booming at 9 percent and every industry still with huge potential yet to be untapped, there is a copious amount of room for the ISX to grow — up and out.
Already, the exchange has nearly tripled its market capitalisation in the past three years and last year it launched the largest initial public offering (IPO) the Middle East had seen since before the global financial crisis.
Yet, Al Rubaye does not have it easy.
He is escorted to and from work in a secure vehicle, while the ISX building in Karrada district is surrounded by a brick wall topped with barbed wire. The traders he relies on risk their lives every time they step onto the trading floor. And the risk is real: in 2010, a car bomb exploded next door and 53 people were killed.
The number of people that have died in violence across Iraq this year has been the worst since 2008.
But life goes on and the ISX is ticking along with it.
“Sometimes Baghdad is stable but sometimes there are criminals or terrorists … hurting and attacking people in some areas. But the economy is pushing through,” Al Rubaye tells Arabian Business.
“We have work to do, we have responsibilities to [meet]. The investors, especially the non-Iraqi investors, understand there is movement from the terrorists but they are not... the country, we still have the power to manage the work, the job, everything. And many of the managers of those funds invested in the stock exchange visit the stock exchange.”
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