File - A broker monitors stock prices on a screen at the Saudi Investment Bank in Riyadh in this file photo taken September 5, 2013REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
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DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's decision to open its bourse to foreign investors is part of an accelerating series of economic reforms that may culminate in the most far-reaching change yet: higher domestic energy prices.The opening of the $550 billion stock market to direct investment by foreign institutions, announced Tuesday, is part of efforts to correct this – along with other changes introduced in the past three years including labor market reforms and a new mortgage lending law.For these reasons, the government delayed the stock market reform for years and is expected to allow foreign investors to enter the country only gradually, starting in the first half of next year.But Saudi authorities now appear to be calculating that significant changes to the economy can wait no longer – and that with high oil prices swelling state finances, they have an opportunity to make reforms that could become more difficult later, when conditions are less comfortable. Labor Minister Adel al-Fakeih said in January Saudi Arabia had doubled the number of its citizens working for private firms in the 30 months since it launched the labor reforms.
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