World Finance

#Kuwait’s Islamic banks thrive despite continued economic uncertainty

Despite the global drop in oil prices, Islamic finance continues to thrive. According to the EY consultancy, Sharia-compliant banking grew at an annual rate of 17.6% between 2009 and 2013, and is now projected to grow by an estimated 19.7% annually by 2018. This rate of growth far outpaces that of conventional banks, putting pressure on traditional banks to diversify their operations by including Sharia-compliant services. Kuwait International Bank (KIB) converted to exclusively Sharia-compliant services in 2007 and paved the way for Islamic finance in Kuwait. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, Chairman of KIB, said the bank has adopted a new strategic outlook which had its first stage launched in 2015. This brought about a change in KIB’s franchise operations and its day-to-day activities. The second phase develops the bank's product and service offerings. The final stage scheduled for 2017 will focus on boosting KIB’s competitive edge within the banking industry.

Diversification in the #Gulf

The banking sector in #Kuwait remains solid, robust and unaffected by regional events. The operating environment can be described as low-risk thanks to the country’s central bank regulatory role and conservative approach. Kuwait International Bank (KIB) has risen to become one of the most established in Kuwait. The bank's CEO, Loai Muqames, says diversification into the retail sector took priority with the launch of stand-alone retail banking operations. Since adopting a unified CRM system the quality and efficiency of the customer service has dramatically increased. KIB partners with Kuwait’s telecom providers to offer SMS banking for those account holders without a mobile internet connection. KIB is also investing in those sectors related to the $100bn government funded national development plan currently in motion. These sectors include infrastructure, oil and gas, energy, and real estate.

Coveting the Islamic finance global position

#Saadiq, synonymous with "truthful" in Arabic, is the brand name for Standard Chartered’s global Islamic banking services. Currently Saadiq provides a comprehensive range of Shariah compliant international banking services across the wholesale and consumer banking. To ensure that Standard Chartered Saadiq products comply with the principles of Shariah, it consults an independent committee comprising three of the world’s most renowned Shariah scholars – Dr Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah, Sheikh Nizam Yaquby and Dr Mohammed Ali Elgari.

Kuwait International Bank helps to spread Islamic banking across Kuwait

Kuwait International Bank (KIB) in 1973 started out as a specialised bank in real estate under the name of Kuwait Real Estate Bank. KIB later helped with the constructional evolution of the country and has since expanded to other areas of the economy. In 2007, KIB converted into a fully-fledged bank operating under Islamic sharia provisions and changed its name. KIB sees the drop in oil prices as an opportunity to expedite the implementation of fiscal reform, in order to mitigate pressures on government budget and diversify the sources of income. Doing so will push forward the wheel of economic development and maintain a sustainable economy in the long run.

Bank Aljazira: Embracing sharia banking principles

In 2007, Bank Aljazira's conversion into the first fully sharia-compliant institution in Saudi Arabia was complete.This transformation required changes to BAJ's infrastructure, offerings and legal environment, among other aspects. Moreover, investments in product development as well as branch and ATM networks were made. The bank simultaneously increased its paid-up capital to SAR 3bn, which came entirely from the bank’s profits. In order to ensure compliance with all sharia banking and financing principles; this led to the formation of a Sharia Advisory Board, which is composed of a number of scholars specialised in sharia-compliant banking. Besides, BAJ launched a SAR 100m programme named Khair Aljazira Le Ahl Aljazira which aims at providing financial support to various charitable societies.

Yasser Al-Hedaithy on Shariah banking | Bank Aljazira | Video

Bank Aljazira has faced a lot of challenges linked to its transition from a conventional bank to a fully Shariah-compliant bank, according to Yasser Al-Hedaithy, Group Treasurer of the bank. Today, Bank Aljazira offers every conventional product available in the market, on a Shariah-compliant basis. Moreover, it has a fully independent Shariah board to ensure compliance with Islamic law. As part of its community service, the bank established a fund called Khair Aljazira Le Ahl Aljazira which helps the disabled in terms of rehabilitation, learning and other programmes. The main driver behind that success is customer loyalty. Furthermore, talents are attracted to the bank by offering attractive jobs.

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