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International Accounting Standards and Selected Middle East Stock Exchanges

Besalet Basoglu and Ahmed Goma

Manhattan College


JEL Classifications: G1, M4, O5

Keywords: Middle East Stock Exchanges, International Accounting Standards, GAAP, IASC

1. International Accounting Standards and Selected Middle East Stock Exchanges

In an effort to generate comparable and reliable accounting information to help investors, creditors and others, each country has developed its own national financial accounting standards. These standards reflect the culture, history, and the characteristics of accounting problems facing that country. In some countries, the professional bodies formulate the financial accounting standards, while in many others governments and regulators establish these standards. As a result, much of the 20th century had witnessed a high degree of variation in the international accounting practices. International accounting diversity was one of the topics discussed in the tenth International Congress of Accountants in 1972. Accounting bodies of some countries attending the meeting were concerned in reducing the degree of variation in international accounting practices. As a result, in 1973, the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) was formed. The founders of this Committee included accounting bodies from Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, West Germany, the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland. Harmonization of accounting standards around the world was one of the main objectives of this Committee. Harmonization can be defined as the process of reducing the degree of variation in international accounting practices.

Once established, the IASC started the process of developing the International Accounting Standards (IASs). The first exposure draft and the first international accounting standard appeared in 1974. In its early years the IASC concentrated on the development of the international accounting standards. The Committee had issued 13 International Accounting Standards between 1974 and 1979. However there was little success, if any, with respect to the harmonization goal because of lack of enforcement. The IASC was a private organization and its members included accounting bodies from various countries. Adoption of International Accounting Standards by different countries was not enforceable by this Committee. Even though the member bodies pledged to cooperate with the IASC, the accounting standard setting bodies of most countries did not adopt these standards during the early years. The two main reasons for this were:

a) International Accounting Standards were not comprehensive enough, and b) International Accounting Standards were very flexible. They provided alternative options to accountants to deal with one accounting issue.

During later years the IASC addressed these issues. In 1987 the Comparability Project was undertaken to reduce the number of options allowed by the International Accounting Standards. In 1993, the project was completed and ten of the revised standards were approved.

The International Organization of Securities Exchange Commissions (IOSCO) had been pressuring the IASC to develop a comprehensive set of Core Standards. In 1995, the IASC and the IOSCO’s Technical Committee reached an agreement on a work plan for a set of forty Core Standards. Upon successful completion of these standards, IOSCO agreed to endorse IASs in all global markets. The IASC completed the development of these forty Core Standards by 1999. Recently IASC experienced a structural change similar to the structure of Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) of the United States. In March 2000, a new IASC constitution was approved and the name of the international standard setting body was changed to International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The new board (IASB) reports to IASC Foundation and assumed its duties in April 2001.

This paper provides a brief history of international accounting standards and makes a modest attempt to evaluate the adoption of International Accounting Standards for listing purposes by the selected Middle East securities markets. The remainder of this paper is organized as follows: The first section discusses the need for establishing IASs. The second Section outlines the need for IASs in the global securities exchange markets, while the third section discusses this issue for some selected Middle East securities exchanges. The fourth section contains concluding remarks.

2. The Need for International Accounting Standards

As we start the new millennium, international economic activity along with other international activities has been increasing at a very rapid rate. International trade, capital movements between countries, international investment, number of multinational firms, and international bond and equity offerings exhibited a huge growth over the last decade. Table I shows International Equity Offerings made by companies from five geographic regions for years 1995 and 1999. As observed, the value of equity offerings for the total market increased from $57,725 million to $151,887 million. This represents an increase of almost three times. The volumes of activity for North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific are more notable. The volumes of activity for Latin America and Africa-Middle East regions are low when compared to the other three regions. This is normal because most of the multinational companies which engage in equity offerings are headquartered in more developed countries. These companies are continuously seeking higher returns and growth and less costly financing. In their quest for higher returns and cheaper financing, they have to consider international alternatives. In order to evaluate these alternatives intelligently they need reliable and comparable information. Dealing with accounting diversity and the requirements of different national accounting standards was a major and costly problem for these companies. If all countries of the world employ the same accounting standards, such as international accounting standards, multinational companies stand to gain tremendously.

Another interest group, who could benefit from the global harmonization of accounting principles, is the international investor. With the arrival of high-tech computers and information age massive amounts of international financial information is available on the Internet. More and more institutional and individual investors are interested in making international investments.

Other groups, which may be interested in universal harmonization of accounting principles, include international filer companies, international accounting firms, international intergovernmental organizations, governments and regulating bodies, and financial markets. A short discussion of these groups is as follows:

A. Some companies listed in the large stock exchanges are not multinationals but they are interested in raising additional funds and trading securities with favorable terms. However, the regulating bodies of stock exchanges, such as the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in the USA, place restrictive filing requirements. Usually they require financial statements to be prepared according to the domestic financial reporting standards. Adoption of the IASs would remove such restrictions.

B. International accounting firms constitute another group. They provide auditing and consulting services in many countries. In order to perform these services, they must possess expertise in the area of domestic financial accounting principles and the related laws. Development of this expertise is very costly to these firms and global harmonization of accounting principles would likely to reduce these costs substantially.

C. International intergovernmental organizations, such as United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), are also interested in obtaining comparable financial information. These organizations need to evaluate projects, extend credits and make other decisions about the different nations of the world. Worldwide accounting principles would produce comparable financial information needed by these organizations.

D. Many developing countries as well as the Eastern European countries did not experience the problems of developed countries and their domestic accounting standards are not very comprehensive. If the governments and/or accounting regulating bodies of these countries adopt international accounting standards as their national standards they can not only have a comprehensive set of standards but also may have easier access to international financing sources.

E. International accounting standards can be very important for the development of global financial markets, especially for stock exchanges. This will be discussed in more detail in the next section.


3. International Accounting Standards and Global Securities Exchange Markets

The increase in international financing activity and the availability of massive amounts of global financial information through the Internet have caused some large stock exchanges to become internationalized. Table II shows the number of domestic and foreign listed companies in the Stock Exchanges of the countries where there are at least 100 foreign listed companies. United Kingdom, NYSE and Nasdaq of USA have more than 400 foreign listed companies. Stock Exchanges of Germany and Luxembourg include more than 200 foreign listed companies. The last column shows the number of foreign companies as a percentage of total listed companies. In the Luxembourg Stock Exchange 80% of total companies are foreign listed companies. These markets are on the way to becoming truly global markets. Internationalization of stock exchanges can receive a boost if all stock exchanges require financial statements prepared according to International Accounting Standards. This is why the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) is so interested in the international accounting standards and has pressured the IASC to undertake the Core Standards Project. After the completion of Core Standards by the IASC, the IOSCO began the assessment of these standards. Eventually the IOSCO completed the evaluation and recommended that its members should permit the incoming multinational issuers to use 30 of these standards. This endorsement by IOSCO was a turning point in support of the IASC’s activities. As a result, more and more stock exchanges are expected to accept the financial statements that are prepared according to IASs for filing purposes. In fact with the exception of United States all the countries listed in Table II have permitted the foreign companies to use IAS financial statements for listing purposes. In the United States the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires that the foreign companies must provide reconciliation to U.S. financial accounting standards if they submit IAS financial statements for listing purposes.

The countries listed in Table II are highly developed western countries. Obviously this is not a coincidence. The stock exchanges of less developed countries have a lower number of foreign listed companies. Most of these countries need to attract foreign capital in order to increase the rate of their development. The remaining parts of this paper will discuss the use of international accounting standards in the stock exchanges of the Middle Eastern countries. Most of these countries are developing nations and they are faced with many economic problems. Allowing IAS financial statements for filing purposes may provide a boost to the securities exchanges of these countries in attracting foreign companies.


4. International Accounting Standards and Middle East Countries

The Middle Eastern countries have many similarities as well as some important differences. Countries like Egypt and Turkey have developing economies and are in need of capital accumulation whereas oil rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have enough capital to invest in foreign markets. In either case these countries need to develop their stock markets and the use of the International Accounting Standards can help them in this regard.

To conduct this study we used the data compiled by International Accounting Standards Committee, currently called International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) [1]. We used the IASB data, which have some shortcomings. The data for some countries seemed to be quite up to date while other countries were not. We sought information on whether the accounting bodies of the countries are members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), on how accounting principles (standards) are determined, and about the acceptability of international accounting standards for listing purposes in the stock markets. In addition we tried to obtain data about the number of domestic as well as the number of foreign companies listed in these stock exchanges. For this purpose we also utilized the data collected by International Federation of Stock Exchanges (recently changed its name to World Federation of Stock Exchanges). For some countries we were able to obtain data on all of these items, while for some other countries information was available on certain items only. We were not able to obtain any information for few countries. That is why the title of this paper includes the term “selected stock exchanges.”

Table III shows a summary of the information available for the Middle East countries. The first column indicates whether the country’s accounting body is a member of the IFAC or not. The second column shows the acceptability of international accounting standards in the stock exchanges. The third column presents information about the accounting principles (standards) applicable within the country. The fourth and fifth columns indicate the number of listed domestic companies and foreign companies, respectively. The countries for which we were not able to obtain any information include Algeria, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. For Iraq, Libya and Sudan only IFAC membership information was available. For Egypt, Israel, Kuwait and Turkey we were able to find information on all five items we inquired. The remaining countries listed in Table III missed at least one item of information. On the critical item of acceptability of international accounting standards (column two) we were able to find data about Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey. In addition, the information about accounting principles applicable in Syria and Tunisia indicates that they are similar to international accounting standards. The data on the number of listed domestic and foreign companies can be used as an indicator of the size and also the degree of internationalization of these stock exchanges.


In Table IV we classified the countries according to the acceptability of IAS financial statements for stock exchange listing purposes. The first column shows the counties in which both domestic and foreign companies are allowed to use IAS financial statements. Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait fall into this category. The second column indicates the countries in which only foreign companies can use IAS statements for listing purposes while domestic companies are required to follow their national accounting standards. Turkey is the only country that falls under this category. The third column shows the countries in which IAS financial statements are not allowed. Iran and Israel are the two countries in this group.


The following is a short discussion of stock exchanges and accounting principles for Table IV countries:
A. The Countries in Which Both Domestic and Foreign Companies Follow IAS

EGYPT: Egyptian Accounting Standards have been prepared to comply with International Accounting Standards except for certain minor differences to adopt to Egyptian economic environment. Therefore all companies listed on the Cairo Stock Exchange must follow IAS. Table III shows that there were 1075 domestic companies listed in the stock exchange. This number is the highest among the Table III countries. However the stock exchange had only one listed foreign company.

JORDAN: All companies, both domestic and foreign, listed in the Amman Stock Exchange must follow IASs. The Amman Stock exchange included 163 domestic companies and zero foreign companies.

KUWAIT: Kuwait adopted international accounting standards as national standards.
Therefore, all companies may follow IAS for listing purposes. Kuwait Stock Exchange
Included 77 domestic and 9 foreign listed companies. The number of foreign listed companies is highest among Table III countries.

B. The Countries in Which Only Foreign Companies May Follow IAS:

TURKEY: Foreign companies may follow IAS or US GAAP or UK GAAP for filing purposes in the Istanbul Stock Exchange. Foreign companies may also follow their national GAAP with reconciliation to IAS. Domestic companies must follow Turkish national GAAP. The Capital Market Board issues Turkish accounting standards and in most cases they are similar to IAS. The Istanbul Stock Exchange included 315 domestic companies and one foreign listed company.

C. The Countries in Which IAS are not allowed:

IRAN: All companies, domestic and foreign, must follow Iranian accounting principles.
Iranian Stock Exchange had 285 domestic companies and no foreign listed company.

ISRAEL: All companies, domestic and foreign, listed in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange are required to follow Israeli accounting standards. The Israel Accounting Standards Board issues Israeli accounting standards and they are in line with U.S. GAAP. There were 664 domestic companies and one foreign listed company in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

5. Conclusion

The Middle-East countries to a large extent have welcomed the International Accounting Standards. Some countries consider these standards as a replacement for their domestic standards, while others accept IAS financial statements from foreign companies for listing purposes in the stock exchanges. A few countries require even the domestic listed companies to follow IASs. The national standards of some countries are either based on or similar to IASs even though they may not have adopted IASs. Only two Middle East countries, Iran and Israel, showed reluctance to the use of IASs. The number of listed companies for the majority of the Middle East Stock Exchanges is small as compared to the stock exchanges of the Western countries. The number of foreign listed companies in most of these stock exchanges is negligible, which means that the degree of internationalization is very low or nonexistent. However, in the opinion of the authors, the experiment is in the early stage to draw a conclusion and it is expected that the adoption of the International Accounting Standards may attract foreign companies in the future.

[1] In order to update the data we sent e-mails to the securities exchange markets of the Middle Eastern countries. However in most cases we did not receive any response from these stock exchanges.


Choi, F.D.S., Frost, C.A, and Meek, G.K., International Accounting, Prentice-Hall, Fourth Edition, 2002.

International Accounting Standards Board: IAS around the world, how IAS are being used,, 2001.

The World Federation of Stock Exchanges Web Site:

Nobes, C.W. and Parker, R., Comparative International Accounting, Prentice-Hall, Sixth Edition, 2000.


International Equity Offerings made by Companies

(Sales of Securities Outside of the Domestic Market)
Millions of Dollars

|Geographic Region |1995 |1999 |
|North America |11,307 |23,963 |
|Europe |31,526 |82,809 |
|Africa- Middle East |1,779 |3,174 |
|Asia – Pacific |12,235 |41,219 |
|Latin America |878 |721 |
|Total Market |57,725 |151,887 |

Source: Choi, Frost and Meek, International Accounting, Prentice-Hall, Fourth Edition, 2002, page 2


Number of Companies with Shares Listed on Stock Exchanges

Of Selected Countries

(As of December 31, 2000)
|Countries |Number of Companies |Foreign Companies |
| |Total |Domestic |Foreign |As a Percent of Total |
|United Kingdom |2,929 |2,603 |501 |17.1 |
|NYSE- USA |2,468 |2,035 |433 |17.5 |
|Nasdaq- USA |4,726 |4,239 |487 |10.3 |
|Germany |989 |744 |245 |24.8 |
|Luxembourg |270 |54 |216 |80.0 |
|France |1,185 |1,021 |164 |13.8 |
|Switzerland |416 |252 |164 |39.4 |
|Netherlands |392 |234 |158 |40.3 |
|Belgium |265 |161 |104 |39.2 |

Source: Choi, Frost and Meek, International Accounting, Prentice-Hall, Fourth Edition, 2002, page 10.


Stock Exchanges and International Accounting Standards
Middle-East Countries

|Country |IFAC Member |International Accounting|Accounting Principles |# Listed Domestics |# Listed Foreign |
| | |Standards | |Companies |Companies |
|Algeria |No info |No information |No information |No info |No info |
|Bahrain |Yes |No Information |Banks are required to |36 |5 |
| | | |conform to IAS | | |
|Egypt |Yes |All companies listed in |Same as IAS except minor |1075 |1 |
| | |Cairo stock exchange |differences | | |
| | |must follow IAS | | | |
|Iran |Yes |All companies follow |No information |285 |0 |
| | |Iranian Accounting | | | |
| | |Standards | | | |
|Iraq |Yes |No information |No information |No info |No info |
|Israel |Yes |Companies follow |Accounting Standards are in|664 |1 |
| | |Israel’s Accounting |line with US GAAP. | | |
| | |Standards |Long-term objective to | | |
| | | |harmonize Israel’s GAAP | | |
| | | |with IAS | | |
|Jordan |Yes |All listed companies are|No information |163 |0 |
| | |required to follow IAS | | | |
|Kuwait |Yes |All listed companies are|IAS are adopted as national|77 |9 |
| | |required to follow IAS |standards with explanatory | | |
| | | |materials added | | |
|Lebanon |Yes |No information |No information |12 |0 |
|Libya |Yes |No information |No information |No info |No info |
|Morocco |No info |No info |No info |53 |0 |
|Palestine |No info |No information |No information |25 |0 |
|Oman |No info |No information |No information |No info |No info |
|Qatar |No info |No information |No information |No info |No info |
|Saudi Arabia |Yes |No information |Accounting standards are |No info |No info |
| | | |established by Ministry of | | |
| | | |Finance | | |
|Country |IFAC Member |International Accounting|Accounting Principles |# Listed Domestics |# Listed Foreign |
| | |Standards | |Companies |Companies |
|Sudan |Yes |No information |No information |No info |No info |
|Syria |Yes |No information |Association of Syrian |No info |No info |
| | | |Certified Accountants | | |
| | | |establishes accounting | | |
| | | |Standards. They are based | | |
| | | |on IAS. | | |
|Tunisia |Yes |No information |Accounting Standards are |No info |No info |
| | | |adopted by Ministry of | | |
| | | |Finance and are similar to | | |
| | | |IAS. Some foreign | | |
| | | |companies are allowed to | | |
| | | |use their national GAAP or | | |
| | | |IAS. | | |
|Turkey |Yes |Companies can follow |All banks and financial |315 |1 |
| | |IAS, or US, or UK GAAP. |institutions are required | | |
| | |Foreign companies may |to follow IAS, beginning | | |
| | |follow their national |January 1999. | | |
| | |GAAP but with | | | |
| | |reconciliation to IAS. | | | |
|United Arab |No info |No information |No information |No info |No info |
|Emirates | | | | | |

Sources: International Accounting Standards Board Internet Site:


Acceptability of International Accounting Standards in the Stock
Exchanges Of Selected Middle East Countries

|Domestic and Foreign Companies May |Only Foreign Companies May Follow IAS |IAS Statements Not Allowed |
|Follow IAS | | |
|Egypt |Turkey |Iran |
|Jordan | |Israel |
|Kuwait | | |

Source: International Accounting Standards Board Internet Site:…...

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...Generally Accepted Accounting Principles HCS/571 Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Health care organizations are required to have financial records audited or examined at least once a year by a certified public accountant (CPA). During the audit, the CPA is looking for substantial errors, evaluating the hospital’s accounting system, and making certain that financial statements are being prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). GAAP is a set of guidelines established by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to determine the financial position of an organization by providing detailed information such as fiscal returns, balance and outstanding debt of the health care organization. According to Finkler, Kovner, & Jones (2007), “A few of the most common and important GAAP include the following: entity concept, going-concern concept, matching principle and cash versus accrual accounting, cost principle, objective evidence, materiality, consistency and full disclosure” (p. 183). The entity concept is the unit that is being accounted for. Entities can be the whole organization (i.e. nursing home, nursing school, surgical center, etc.) or each individual department within the hospital. When defining the entity two points must be taken into consideration: once defined the resources cannot be mixed with other entities, and the finances should be completely indicative to that specific entity. These two concepts...

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...method to share and present information to stakeholders and outside entities. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) is the standards, procedures, and rules organizations use to record and report financial information and ensures consistency in financial statements. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) establishes the standards and rules of GAAP (Finkler, Kovner, & Jones, 2007). A few of the most common GAAP are reviewed in this paper. Financial accounting yields four financial statements. “The statements are … balance sheet, statement of operations (or income statement of revenues and expenses, statements of cash flows,[and] statement of changes in new assets (or statements of changes in net assets)” (Cleverley, Song, & Cleverley, 2011,p.182) . GAAP is used to form the structure of these statements. The following are common GAAP that organizations follow. The first major GAAP is the entity principle. The financial report presented focuses solely on one organization. Hospitals with medical schools and nursing schools can incorporate both into their overall financial reports; however each school would also have their sub-entity financial reports (Finkler, Kovner, & Jones, 2007). This entity principle enhances the accuracy of the report and reduces misrepresentative of financial status organizations. A second GAAP is the continuing concern concept this refers to an assumption the organization has a future and will exist......

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...There's more than one way to make financial statements look pristine when earnings season comes around. This article will take a look at two ways in which companies can fool investors, so that you can learn to spot accounting manipulation: "one-time charges" and "investment gains." Some Background on GAAP Generally Accepted Accounting Principles is a common set of accounting principles, standards and procedures set out by institutes and boards around the world. GAAP is a combination of authoritative standards and accepted ways of doing accounting. While GAAP is a good set of standards for companies to follow, it still leaves room for them to distort or pamper figures. The line between reflecting the true value of a company and exaggerating it, is a blurry one for some GAAP techniques. One-time charges and investment gains are examples of such techniques, as they are legal ways to represent figures, but can still have a tendency to fool investors into thinking things are better than they really are. One-Time Charges Many high-profile companies have been known to take one-time charges, sometimes known as the "big bath." One-time charges are expenses that the company claims will not occur year after year, and, as such, are not recorded on the income statement but included in a separate charge. One-time charges are technically not recurring and therefore not a true factor affecting the value of the company. So, earnings figures calculated with the one-time charges are......

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...convergence of IFRS and GAAP because it believes that doing so will benefit U.S investors. The incorporation of IFRS in GAAP will protect the investors, maintain the fair representation of financial statements and increase comparability and material information for investors to make better decisions. The primary benefit will be the reduction in discrepancies in financial statements among different countries around the world. “SEC, with convergence, wants to reduce regulatory impediments to cross-border capital transactions that result from disparate national accounting standards.” [3] As noted on pages 5 and 8, paragraph 2 and 3 respectively, some additional benefits are: ● “Greater comparability for investors across firms and industries on a global basis; ● Reduced listing costs for companies with multiple listings; ● Increased competition among exchanges; ● Better global resource allocation and capital formation; ● Lowered cost of capital ● A higher global economic growth rate ● Improved financial statement comparability among companies worldwide; ● Streamlined accounting processes for multinational companies; and ● Easier access to foreign capital and improved liquidity, leading to a reduced cost of capital” [5,8] 1B. Areas of concern within the SEC’s work plan before execution of the use of IFRS by us issuers: “A Work Plan was made to identify the areas of concerns within the roadmap of the proposed convergence of IFRS and GAAP, which......

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...PwC Similarities and Differences A Comparison of IFRS, US GAAP and Indian GAAP* *connectedthinking November 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers’ publications and tools PricewaterhouseCoopers has a range of tools and publications to help companies apply IFRS (see also the inside back cover). Illustrat ive Consolidated Fin ancial Statements • Corporate, 2007 • Banking, 2006 • Insurance, 2006 • Investment funds, 2006 • Investment property, 2006 Realistic sets of financial statements – for existing IFRS preparers in the above sectors – illustrating the required disclosure and presentation. Measurement checklist 200 6 Outlines the measurement bases required by all IFRSs published up to September 2006 Adopting IFRS – A step-by-step illu stratio n of t he transitio n t o IFRS Illustrates the steps involved in preparing the first IFRS financial statements. It takes into account the effect on IFRS 1 of the standards issued up to and including March 2004. IFRS for SMEs (proposals) – Pocket Guide 200 7 Provides a summary of the recognition and measurement requirements in the proposed ‘IFRS for Small and MediumSized Entities’ published by the International Accounting Standards Board in February 2007 IAS 39 – Achi eving hedge accounting in practice Covers in detail the practical issues in achieving hedge accounting under IAS 39. It provides answers to frequently asked questions and step-by-step illustrations of how to apply common......

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