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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Dubai opens new stock exchange
The floor of the Dubai Stock Market
Record oil revenues are attracting investors to Dubai's stock market
Dubai's attempt to attract foreign investors by launching a new stock exchange is likely to get off to a slow start because it has no shares to sell.

The Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX) in the United Arab Emirates started trading at 1000 GMT.

In an area that can prove tricky for foreign investors, the DIFX aims to offer a liquid, well-regulated market.

While no firms are listed, investors can buy five securities that track markets in the US, Europe and Japan.

Dubai-based mobile phone company Investcom is expected to become the first firm to list on the exchange, and DIFX officials said they expect about 15 companies to be trading by the end of 2006.

Steffen Schubert, chief executive of the exchange, said he expected the share sales to be worth about $2bn (1.1bn).

Expansion plan

Dubai is trying to build itself into a regional investment centre.

Last year it launched a financial free zone called the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The DIFX is part of that initiative and looks to give foreign investors unfettered access to the region's companies.

Lynton Jones, the chairman of DIFX, said that providing an exchange with a strong regulatory framework and liquidity was key to luring overseas money.

DIFX also wants to offer investors products such as futures and options, bonds, and Islamic investment tools.

"To attract international institutional investors, it is really important that a market has all the qualities present in the most mature markets," Mr Jones said.

"That wasn't present in the Arab world before now."

Dubai already has a stock exchange, which has had its own problems recently.

Last month, the United Arab Emirates' regulators cancelled trading in Dubai Islamic Bank shares worth $2.6bn after accusations of price manipulation.

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