Qatar is ideally placed to be the potential nucleus of global Islamic economy in view of its strong growth, legal framework and other prospects, said International Islamic CEO Abdulbasit A al-Shaibei.
“Globally, Islamic finance has better appreciation now. At the 2013 World Islamic Economic Forum hosted by Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron said Islamic financing is promising. Prime Minister Cameron also said Britain is keen to see London becoming a major hub for Islamic banking. The British government has decided to issue the first sukuk in 2014,” al-Shaibei said in an interview with Gulf Times.
Qatar, al-Shaibei said, was one of the first countries to identify the potential of Islamic banking. Qatar is also one of the pioneers that identified the potential and importance of Islamic debt markets.
“In 1991, when International Islamic was set up as QIIB, Qatar was the only country to host two Islamic banks. Now, we have four Islamic banks in Qatar. The equity of these four banks is really huge,” al-Shaibei said.
Qatar, he said, had a dedicated customer base for Shariah-based banking.
“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. We have a solid ground here for Islamic economy.”
He saw a rising demand for Shariah-compliant products and services, which was being catered to by International Islamic.
“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.
“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 is of truly global standards. Our regulators are all very competent. We are also blessed with a pool of Shariah scholars who advise us on Islamic financial principles.”
International Islamic, the CEO said, would open some six new branches across the country this year. This is in addition to many new ATMs planned at strategic locations in Qatar.
“We have also laid focus on developing our electronic banking platform with adequate safeguards in place. The idea is to serve all segments of the society. We will reach out to our customers and will be all over Qatar,” al-Shaibei said.