Dubai: Nasdaq Dubai, an exchange based in the emirate’s financial free zone, is preparing to launch a trading platform for conventional and Islamic bonds in an effort to deepen the regional fixed-income market, it said on Monday.

The platform will be available to institutional and high-net worth investors and will be opened and gradually developed in coming weeks, Nasdaq Dubai said in an emailed statement.

Trades on the new platform will be automatically and exclusively routed for settlement at Euroclear Bank, the bourse said, noting that tradable securities will initially comprise at least 12 sukuk and bonds that are listed on the exchange with a nominal value of $10.9 billion.

Nasdaq Dubai’s initiative comes at a time when the region is seeing a surge in bond issuances and as the Arabian Gulf state continues to build its credentials as a regional financial hub amid increasing competition from its neighbour Abu Dhabi and Doha. “The new platform is a natural extension of Dubai’s existing role as a centre for Sukuk and bond issuance and listing,” Essa Kazim, chairman of Borse Dubai - the holding company for Dubai’s stock exchanges, said in the statement.

He added that the new platform will provide fresh impetus to the growth of capital markets in the UAE and the region.

Prices of bonds, currently traded mostly over the counter, will be visible to all investors simultaneously on the screen-based system, which will help increase transparency and efficiency in the secondary market as well as boost liquidity, the bourse said.