Muscat Stock Exchange Posted
FEAS Secretariat spoke with the Director General of Muscat Securities Market and FEAS Chairman Mr. Ahmed Saleh Al Marhoon about the key strategic initiatives of MSM, MSM’s role in promoting financial literacy in the country, major challenges during the global pandemic and how MSM is handling with them, and more.
1. What are the key strategic initiatives MSM is working on at the moment?
Oman recently went through a change in the government structure where a new more dynamic cabinet was set to dedicate efforts towards the future Vision, Vision 2040 of Oman.
Under the new structure the ministries were also slimmed down in order to provide the sultanate with a centered more efficient government and an investment authority was also created that encompasses all public finance and investment related institutions.
Keeping in line with the government’s vision, MSM is also soon transferring from a government owned institution to a private company and will be under the supervision of this new Investment Authority and will take part in the government’s aim to make Sultanate a more developed, diversified and competitive global economy.
In this regard, MSM also developed strategies to introduce new instruments and upgradation of trading and surveillance systems, in order to be a strategically and technologically advanced exchange in the arena of global stock exchanges.
2. What are the most active instruments traded in MSM, have they changed during the last months?
Muscat Securities Market offers various trading instruments to its inventors such as stocks, bonds , mutual funds, Sukuks, etc.
Moreover, being a frontier exchange as per the global trend it attracts quite a lot of foreign and local retails inventors and as retail investors find stocks and shares most lucrative instruments of trade investments, therefore our most active trading instrument is stocks. We do also maintain a good mutual fund and bond portfolio, but as mentioned earlier shares, being the liquid instrument in nature is most attractive to our retail investors, especially most recently to our foreign investors that find our share prices very competitive and attractive in comparison to other markets.
Bearing in mind shares are the most active instruments in MSM that does not exclude the reality that we also offer various instruments as mentioned above. In addition, we are working to introduce lending and borrowing soon.
3. What is MSM strategy in promoting financial literacy in the country?
Muscat securities market under its awareness initiative uses a mix of awareness and educational activities to spread investment awareness and financial literacy among its general public.
MSM offers dedicated financial literacy programs to Oman’s educational institutions especially keeping in mind that Oman is a youth economy and its youth is our markets future investor, broker , entrepreneur and staff.
Hence we offer many financial literacy programs for students such as bilingual (Arabic/English) educational booklets produced in cooperation with Ministry of Education Oman for the benefit of students, along with dedicated student portals, stock game simulations, lectures, tours, game competitions, state level challenges and internship programs.
The exchange has similar educational programs for companies where we provide basic training to public and private sector staff on Oman Capital Markets.
We offer especial dedicated training for Omani women, while celebrating social occasions such as Omani women’s day.
Over the years, MSM has also taken part in many international conferences and programs through its various international platforms such as WFE, FEAS, AFE etc., and we continue to support other platform members in spreading financial literacy beyond borders. One such program MSM took part in was the publishing of educational booklet for MSM’s partner member exchanges of FEAS in their native languages for their public; MSM supported the program with content and funds.
To spread financial literacy to masses we also utilize different media channels such as; TV, radio and print media. MSM also conducts regular journalist training programs for its local media member.
We also run several financial literacy campaigns on our various social media platforms. In addition to many social events, it conducts to spread financial literacy among general public.
4. MSM is ahead of facing new technological challenges and bringing changes for the local market in the region. On a global scale, where is your country standing in terms of adapting new technologies and new trends in the market?
Sultanate of Oman as a policy promotes the use of advanced technologies in all spheres of its government. We also have an E- Government now, where all government institutions including MSM is obliged to be technologically more advanced organization.
Keeping in mind , MSM has always been in business of using sophisticated technologies and we shall continue to keep pace with the global technological advancements and continue to upgrade our technologies in use, for example we are soon to upgrade our trading and surveillance systems simultaneously to Optiq trading system and the First Derivatives surveillance system both from Euronext.
5. Today’s world is facing several challenges and how we all come together as a community will make a difference in moving forward. How are you encouraging your employees to stay positive and to avoid negativity in the workplace?
MSM encourages a transparent working environment. We practice open communication and family like trust values towards our colleagues. Where adversities such as COVID-19 crisis becomes an opportunity of support and goodwill. This crisis once again brought about leadership support and creative learning qualities of our staff and surprisingly their positive motivation gave us the courage to march on and face the challenge head on. With the help of our contingency plans, we were able to keep physical workforce at minimum to 20% in the main offices, and provided our staff with remote office location access along with work from home opportunities in order to stay safe and motivated while continuously operating without any service interruptions or delays.
We look forward to the same show of support and positive attitude in times to come even after COVID 19.
6. In your personal opinion, what will life look like after COVID-19 pandemic? What are the major challenges that humanity will face in the near future?
COVID 19 no doubt has affected the human society greatly and has been a set back to the global economic development, especially to the small and medium industries around the world. However, we must look at the positive side, such as the advancement of information technology that despite global lockdowns helped us keep in touch with each other. In addition, the introduction of e-commerce that did not let die down the basic human necessities trade.
Therefore, we anticipate a mix of IT technologies and human emotional intelligence required to bring us out of the current global economic depressions in order to provide a better more sustainable growth for all human race. As physical interactions will reduce among humans due to the fear of pandemic for some time to come hence, we would require all that technology has to offer along with basic human sensibilities and especially kindness to overcome the physical challenges at hand.