Saudis acquire 32.6% of Dubai’s commodities exchange to rebrand it Gulf Mercantile Exchange

Rick Steves

DME, established in 2007 and headquartered in the UAE, is a leading international commodities exchange. It is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority and cleared through CME Clearing, under the oversight of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Saudi Tadawul Group has entered into an agreement to acquire a 32.6% stake in DME Holdings Limited, the parent company of Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME).

This makes Saudi Tadawul Group a joint largest shareholder alongside CME Group. The Dubai Mercantile Exchange will be rebranded as the Gulf Mercantile Exchange. This move is significant for the Middle East commodities market, enhancing its global relevance.

Trading on Dubai Mercantile Exchange is cleared through CME Group

DME is known for its DME Oman Crude Oil Futures Contract, a major crude oil benchmark globally. In 2023, physical delivery volumes of this contract reached 210 million barrels. The Saudi Tadawul Group’s investment brings together major partners such as CME Group, the Oman Investment Authority, and Dubai Holding. This partnership aims to expand opportunities in energy, metals, and agricultural commodities and supports sustainable economy transitions.

The Saudi Tadawul Group, a leader in the MENA region’s capital markets, will acquire new and existing shares in DME Holdings. This strategic investment is expected to accelerate DME’s growth, leveraging the Middle East’s position in global commodity markets. The Gulf Mercantile Exchange will continue to focus on energy, metals, and agricultural commodities, with plans to introduce next-generation derivatives contracts.

DME, established in 2007 and headquartered in the UAE, is a leading international commodities exchange. It is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority and cleared through CME Clearing, under the oversight of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The integrity of the DME Oman contract will remain a priority, with no changes planned as a result of this transaction.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals. Post-investment, DME will operate from the Dubai International Financial Centre and remain under the regulation of the Dubai Financial Services Authority. CME Group will continue to provide trading technology and clearing services.

Commentary from key figures

Key figures from Saudi Tadawul Group, DME Holdings Limited, the Oman Investment Authority, and CME Group have expressed optimism about this partnership, citing its alignment with growth strategies and the potential to bridge global commodity markets.

Ahmad Sharaf, Chairman of DME Holdings Limited, said, “On behalf of DME Holdings Limited and its shareholders, I am delighted to welcome Saudi Tadawul Group as joint largest shareholder. In particular, I am proud that Saudi Tadawul Group has chosen to enter the global commodities market through its investment in DME Holdings Limited and this reflects both Dubai Mercantile Exchange’s established position as one of the world’s leading energy-focused commodities exchanges and the opportunities for growth open to Dubai Mercantile Exchange.

“As we enter a new era of growth as the Gulf Mercantile Exchange, we are excited about the potential to build a regional commodities powerhouse with global relevance. Not only will our expanded partnership support our flagship Oman Crude Oil Contract but it will also position us to become a champion for the transition to a more sustainable future.”

Eng. Khalid Al Hussan, Group CEO of Saudi Tadawul Group, said, “Our investment in DME Holdings Limited provides Saudi Tadawul Group with access to one of the most important asset classes globally for the first time, embedding commodities trading into the Middle East’s largest capital markets group. With the option to increase our stake in the future, this investment will contribute to our ability to diversify the Group’s revenues and opportunities and is firmly aligned with our growth strategy and ambitions as part of Vision 2030. We look forward to working together to unlock new growth opportunities, leveraging our proximity to key financial and production hubs to bridge demand from east and west.”

Mulham Al Jarf, Deputy President for Investments, Oman Investment Authority, said, “We are delighted to welcome Saudi Tadawul Group as a new shareholder. Its expertise and insights, along with what we have built over the years with DME Holdings Limited in Dubai Mercantile Exchange, will be invaluable as we continue to navigate through an ever-evolving market landscape. This partnership marks a significant step in our commitment to innovation and excellence in providing opportunities for DME’s regional and global stakeholders while maintaining the integrity of DME Oman.”

Derek Sammann, Senior Managing Director, Global Head of Commodities, Options and International Markets, CME Group, added, “We look forward to welcoming Saudi Tadawul Group as a significant partner in the new Gulf Mercantile Exchange, the premier commodities exchange in the MENA region. Building on DME’s successful benchmark Omani Crude Oil futures contract, Saudi Tadawul Group’s participation in the exchange will unlock new opportunities for developing regionally relevant trading products to help global market participants gain exposure or manage energy, metals or agriculture price risk.”

Dubai Mercantile Exchange Limited is an established commodities exchange, having traded 20 billion barrels of Omani crude since its inception. Its stakeholders include major global financial institutions and energy trading firms, underscoring its significance in the global energy market.

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