Shariah Gets Hotter as Kazakhs Revive Islamic Bank Plan

Kazakhstan is reviving plans to develop Islamic finance and is “fine-tuning” legislation for Shariah-compliant banking, central bank Chairman Kairat Kelimbetov said. Some lenders are seeking to convert into Islamic banks, he said. The drive by Kazakhstan comes two years after its debut sukuk, which was denominated in Malaysian ringgit. Abu Dhabi’s Al Hilal Bank opened a branch in Kazakhstan in 2010, and remains the only Islamic lender in the oil-rich nation. However, Al Hilal Islamic experienced difficulties in generating business because of a lack of understanding of Shariah-compliant products by customers. Moreover, Kazakhstan will face legislative hurdles as it seeks to promote the industry and the nation is experiencing the early stages of development.