07 April 2016 National Bonds
, a Dubai government-owned sharia-compliant investment company, said it is eyeing expansion into the rest of the Gulf region and has appointed a firm to evaluate launching in Saudi Arabia by 2017.
CEO Mohammed Qasim Al Ali told Zawya that 60 percent of National Bonds
' equity allocations are in Saudi Arabia, which he said was a "much bigger" market than the United Arab Emirates, making it a natural first choice for expanding the firm's mudaraba-based savings and investment scheme throughout the Gulf region.
"At the moment we are eyeing Saudi Arabia because it is a big market with 28 million and they lack saving products. We have already contracted with one of the leading consultants to do a survey for us on the ground and they are already carrying out the work," he said in an interview at company headquarters in Dubai.
"After the survey, if it confirms the opportunity is great and needs something like National Bonds
, we will start looking for partners. I would reckon that if it works well I would say 2017 [we may start operations]."
Licensed by the UAE Central Bank, National Bonds Corporation PJSC
was established in March 2006 with a paid-up capital of 150 million dirhams ($40.8 million) and currently has around 816,000 members.
It has been fully owned by Dubai's sovereign wealth fund, the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), since March 2011 when ICD bought out previous shareholders, which included Burj Khalifa developer Emaar Properties, Dubai Holding and Dubai Bank.
National Bonds said last month that its savings and investment products provided up to 4 percent annualised returns to customers in 2015.
Under mudaraba, a form of investment partnership common in Islamic finance, assets are managed on behalf of clients, with income and expenses shared under a pre-agreed ratio.
© Zawya 2016