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Feb 24 2013

Qatar has potential to become major Islamic finance platform, says QIIB CEO

By Pratap John Qatar can become a major global platform for Islamic finance in view of its resources, expertise in Shariah-compliant products and services, and world class regulatory framework, said International Islamic (QIIB) chief executive officer, Abdulbasit A al-Shaibei.

Qatar, he said, is significantly active in the major global Islamic centres such as Malaysia. Also, Islamic finance has growing demand in Qatar and the region.

"We have the resources, expertise, empowered regulators and adequate manpower (human resources) in our country. We can easily build a much stronger platform for Islamic finance in Qatar that can cater to, not just the region, but the whole world," al-Shaibei said in an interview with Gulf Times.

He stressed that Qatar was one of the first countries in the world to identify the significance of Islamic banking. Qatar is now home to major and reputable Islamic banks such as QIB , QIIB and Masraf Al Rayan .

"We have had the first Islamic bank in our country in the 80s through QIB . Qatar International Islamic Bank was established in the 90s. Masraf Al Rayan was established a few years ago.

"On the conventional side, the largest bank in the entire Middle East by assets is Qatar's QNB," al-Shaibei pointed out.

Qatar is one of the first countries that identified the potential and importance of Islamic debt markets. In 2003, $700mn was raised for the sovereign through a seven-year sukuk, which was joint-lead managed by HSBC and QIIB .

"Our banking industry, Shariah-based in particular, has grown phenomenally over the last few years. We now have many Qataris with proper competence, knowledge and expertise in Islamic banking. In our banking industry, we have significantly gained because of them," he said.

On Dubai's recent initiative to build a global centre for Islamic economy, al-Shaibei said: "I strongly believe we have the potential to do it on a global scale here. If we can play an active role in leading Islamic financial centres such as Malaysia, why can't we do it here?"

He said the credibility of Qatar's Islamic banks is indisputable.

"In Shariah-based banking, we have proper risk management in place. Also, our banking principles are highly value-based and customer-centric. In Qatar, we have a well developed banking regulatory framework, which are of truly global standards. Our regulators are all very competent. We also are blessed with a pool of Shariah scholars who advise us on Islamic financial principles," al-Shaibei said.

"Whenever our Islamic banks do cross border transactions or issue sukuks around the world, they are well received. A case in point is our own sukuk."

QIIB 's $700mn five-year sukuk last year was very successful in the international market with subscription exceeding $5bn or seven-fold oversubscription.

" QIIB was very pleased with the success of the transaction, which highlighted the confidence placed by investors in the bank's credit story and its strategy," al-Shaibei said.

Islamic economic principles play a growing significance in today's global business environment, with Islamic economy size reaching $2.3tn and a growing community of 1.6bn Muslims around the world.

Recently, Ernst & Young's World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2013 said global Islamic banking assets are expected to reach $1.8tn by 2013, up from the $1.3tn of assets held in 2011.

© Gulf Times 2013


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