In the past week, Dubai has made a series of moves designed to attract listings which includes state-owned utility DEWA - one of 10 planned over the coming months. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Dubai plans to encourage private and family-owned businesses to list on its stock market. The emirate merged its economic and tourism departments on Saturday, and one of the new entity’s main tasks is to encourage private and family-owned businesses to sell shares on the Dubai bourse.

On Sunday, the UAE’s market regulator said it signed a pact with the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority to enable companies operating in Dafza to offer their shares to the public.

When shares of a company are sold to institutional investors (and usually retail investors, too), it's referred to as an initial public offering (IPO) or stock launch.

In most instances, an IPO is underwritten by one or more investment banks, who also arrange for the shares to be listed on one or more stock exchanges.

The free zone is home to more than 1,800 registered businesses from over 20 sectors and industries, and is not part of Dubai International Airport, according to information on Dafza’s website.

Some of the well-known private firms and family-owned businesses in Dubai include Majid Al Futtaim Holding, the operator of Carrefour SA stores in the Middle East, and Al Khaleej Sugar, owner of the world’s largest port-based sugar refiner.