April marked a new milestone in the Omani national stock exchange’s journey. Previously known as Muscat Securities Market, it now operates under a new name – Muscat Stock Exchange, or MSX – as it transitions into a closed joint stock company under Oman Investment Authority. Under its new identity, the stock exchange has ambitions to become a publicly listed company in the future while continuing to adopt global best practices.
A new board of directors has been constituted to oversee MSX’s operations and I am honoured to share that I have been elected as the chairman of the board.
Today, we are at a very interesting juncture, with several countries of the world already in post-pandemic socioeconomic recovery. After what feels like a very long period of uncertainty and low morale, nations across the globe are eager to advance into the next phase of growth.
The past two years have been bittersweet for Oman. While grief-stricken citizens were overcoming the demise of Sultan Qaboos, they welcomed a renewed era of renaissance under the leadership of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq. His able stewardship helped Oman navigate the pandemic and has kept the country united through challenging times with a concerted focus on our shared goals for Oman's future.
Unprecedented times call for extraordinary measures and the recent shared experiences of uncertainty, fear and loss have made the world realise that we must stand together for collective well-being and progress. Perhaps in the long run, this may become the start of a new concerted effort needed to combat the increasingly protectionist cultures.
Oman has always prided itself on its collectivism. Our citizens are deeply attached to our national identity and the dedication of the Omani people to the community has always been a key driver of progress.
As Oman commences its economic recovery, we have to keep in mind the vision for the country outlined by our wise leaders under which logistics, tourism, mining, manufacturing and fisheries have all been identified as potential future economic drivers. As we build back better, the stock exchange under its rebranded format will serve as the platform for business transformation and growth. It is just the catalyst that our economy needs at this time. Given our nation’s long tradition of entrepreneurship, we welcome the development that will offer companies new ways to thrive and ensure a slew of benefits for all their stakeholders.
The stock exchange will play a transformative role in revitalising Oman’s economy through empowering businesses and economic development projects with better access to financing than has ever been available. Several government-owned companies are likely to opt for an IPO listing on the exchange in the years to come.
MSX is preparing to play a defining role in the realms of regional and international securities through implementing myriad initiatives to enhance the performance of listed companies, offer greater levels of transparency to its investors, increase operational effectiveness and create new opportunities and tools for market participants.
Listing a company on MSX will ensure a raft of advantages to a business and its stakeholders. In addition to creating market valuation, it will ensure sustainability for family businesses and SMEs, enabling organisations to raise capital to meet expansion goals – for instance, boosting production capacity and diversifying interests to increase revenue and create more tailored job opportunities.
Listed companies can seize new opportunities to grow in an increasingly competitive market and demonstrate the means to go head-to-head with more established competitors.
A listing on MSX will also enhance a company’s public profile through adding layers of credibility and publicising its corporate and consumer brands. A listing is also viewed as a sign of confidence and will instill greater trust among stakeholders – potentially attracting the best talent, discerning customers and business partners, as well as high net worth investors. Foreign investors are typically more inclined to consider opportunities in listed companies.
Listed companies offer shares to employees as an incentive. In doing so, they help achieve human resource goals, attract and retain a dedicated workforce over the long term and boost employee engagement.
Confidence among suppliers, investors and customers will also increase over time and greatly improve the bargaining power that companies hold. Companies keen to expand and broaden the scope of their business to scales beyond the local market will greatly benefit from such overtures.
The increased transparency that comes with listing will also boost accountability, enhance competitiveness and push organisations to operate more ethically and apply global best practices, in line with Oman’s national goal to minimise corruption within the private sector.
There truly is no better time than now for a force multiplier like the Muscat Stock Exchange to introduce a new dimension to Oman's business landscape. As a nation, the setbacks we have faced due to the impacts of the pandemic will lead us to come together unified against a common enemy. I am confident that our nation will soon be ahead on the road to recovery, transformation and growth while achieving its development goals with the support of MSX and the new set of opportunities on the horizon.
Mohammed Alardhi is the executive chairman of Investcorp and chairman of Sohar International