Doha: A top Islamic Finance expert says that Qatar has full potential to emerge as a leader of Islamic Finance industry in the world as the gulf state is equipped with all resources, expertise in Shariah-compliant products and services, and world class regulatory framework.
The CEO of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB), Abdulbasit A al-Shaibei, said that Qatar is significantly active in the major global Islamic centers 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.
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.
He said, “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,” he added.
Qatar is one of the first countries that identified the potential and importance of Islamic debt markets. In 2003, $700 million was raised for the sovereign through a seven-year sukuk, which was joint-lead managed by HSBC and QIIB.
Al-Shaibei stated, “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.”
On Dubai’s recent initiative to build a global center 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 centers such as Malaysia, why can’t we do it here?”
He said that 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,” he added.
QIIB’s $700 million five-year sukuk last year was very successful in the international market with subscription exceeding $5 billion 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 concluded.