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New Saudi Arabia-focused ETF aims to woo international investors

  • Investors have few avenues to invest in the booming market.
  • To meet this gap, the United Arab Emirates financial firm launched an exchange-traded fund (ETF) Wednesday which will be listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

Saudi Arabia is transforming economically as the kingdom moves from its traditional heavy reliance on oil, but investors have few avenues to invest in the booming market.

"There aren't many channels of investments towards the capital market in Saudi Arabia...so international investors are really asking for exposure to Saudi Arabia — no stock picking, just some ETFs or an index to go in passively and through a systematic strategy," said Ryan Lemand, senior executive officer at ADS Investment Solutions.

To meet this gap, the United Arab Emirates financial firm launched an exchange-traded fund (ETF) Wednesday which will be listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. The FTSE Ads Custom Saudi Minimum Variance Index was developed in collaboration with FTSE Russell.

"Saudi Arabia today is reforming, it is changing and generally investors who look at emerging markets, they look at emerging markets that are reforming, not the static emerging markets," Lemand told CNBC's "Capital Connection." "Today, Saudi Arabia is not only changing, it is literally transforming."

In 2016, Saudi Arabia's government unveiled a long-term economic blueprint for life in a low-oil-price world.

Titled "Saudi Vision 2030," the plan includes regulatory, budget and policy changes that will be implemented in the hope of making the kingdom less reliant on crude. It aims to build a "prosperous and sustainable economic future" for the kingdom.

In March, index compiler FTSE Russell decided to add Saudi Arabia to its emerging market index starting in March 2019, and index giant MSCI will decide whether to take the same action in June.

CNBC's Matt Clinch and Reuters contributed to this story.