As a depressingly poor trading year draws to a close, the argument for creating a single stock market in the UAE is more compelling than ever.
Valuations have fallen close to record lows and trading volumes have slumped to a tenth of the level of three years ago. Next year shows little sign of an upturn.
Frustratingly, the UAE has largely missed out on any part of an estimated US$3.6 trillion (Dh13.22tn) of investment money circling the globe this year in search of returns outside the more developed markets in the West. But the UAE does have many attributes to attract investors from this region and beyond.
The majority of companies are in good shape, with healthy financial results.
Economic growth is also strong. GDP expansion far exceeds that of the shakier economies of the US and Europe and is expected to accelerate next year.
The UAE has also proved a haven from security concerns elsewhere this year. Unrest has rocked Egypt - once a darling of foreign investors - and instability has even touched one of the Bric countries, Russia.
In the UAE, officials are pressing ahead with an overhaul of investment regulations, including a reform of the companies law, the establishment of market makers and the legalisation of short selling.
The country has met almost all criteria required to enter the emerging-market category, but perhaps low volumes are still an obstacle.
Now we need to grasp the window of opportunity to act before MSCI reviews its decision again in June next year. A move towards integrating the three bourses would surely help to sway the decision for the UAE and release much-needed liquidity.
A single UAE exchange could be the final piece in the jigsaw.