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Awqaf South Africa and AlHuda-CIBE sign an MOU at Johannesburg
AWQAF SA and Pakistan based Al Huda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics (Al Huda CIBE) formally entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) at Gallagher Estate, Sandton , Johannesburg, at the closure of the International Conference on Islamic Banking and Finance in Africa organized by AlHuda CIBE.....
Mr. Zuair Mughal, CEO Alhuda CIBE & Mr. Zeniel Kajee CEO Awqaf South Africa at MOU signing Ceremony
The Living Legend of Islamic Banking in Pakistan

An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Shafqaat Ahmed Country Head AlBaraka Islamic Bank Ltd.

  1. First of all please summarize your educational background and professional experiences in a net shell?

I have done graduate from FC College.  As far as my professional education is concerned, I had various banking diplomas and some courses after the completion of my education and during my profession. I started my professional career in 1969. By the grace of God I have got a wide professional experience of approximately 44 years from which first half was spent in conventional banking and second half was spent in Islamic banking which is still going on.

  1. You have started AlBaraka Islamic Bank in 1992 from the scratch in Pakistan so what is your achievement to till date?

In 1992, we established Albaraka Islamic Bank in Pakistan as a branch of Bahrain head office. In 1992, there was hardly any Islamic bank operating in Pakistan. By the grace of God we are the oldest Islamic bank in Pakistan. If we look at our achievements, we started as a conventional bank on a very small scale. I would like to mention that there was no distinction between conventional and Islamic banking at that time. Islamic Banking System was established in Pakistan in 2003 when State Bank announced to issue licence to Islamic banks.  When it was announced we approached State Bank for Islamic banking license. When Islamic banking was formalized by central bank they made mapped certain requirements for Islamic banking system i.e. Independent Shariah advisory Board, separate manuals, and other procedures. It was important for licensed Islamic banks that they should have total conformity with Shariah Advisory Committee in all the activities. We are operating as the oldest Islamic bank in Pakistan and we give much importance to Islamic banking orders. We are one of the Islamic banks which are in total commitment with Shariah Compliance. We initiated our bank with one branch and now we are 29 braches operating in 16 cities of Pakistan. We started with a very small capital of 2 million and now by the grace of God it has reached to 35 million US $.  If we see at our major achievements, I would say that Albaraka is one of the major contributors of Islamic banking in Pakistan. Islamic banking in Pakistan is much groomed up as there are now 6 independent Islamic banks and 13 conventional banks which have Islamic windows in their banks. Market share of Islamic banks is over 5% now which is growing much faster than conventional banks. Albaraka has played a major role in the regard. We are struggling in promoting Islamic banking in Pakistan and we are still doing so. .

  1. AlBaraka Islamic Bank is working in 13 countries under the Umbrella of ABG group. What is the further expansion plan of ABG in region?

Till 2002, Albaraka was working independently only in 10 countries, after that it extended its branches in various other countries. The objective of Albaraka is to gather all the entities under one umbrella. We have achieved a major milestone as all banks coming under Albakarka group had balance sheet of total asset of  12 million US $ when it started its operations but now it has reached to around 1.6 million US dollars. We are working in 13 countries and still striving for two or more than two countries i.e. Malaysia, Philippines, and France especially where the government has invited Islamic banking in the country. France government has realized that Islamic banking has not suffered due to major financial crisis all over the world. If the Islamic bank was established in all over the world, this crisis would have averted. However we are looking to consolidate our position in the world more perfectly. As we are planning IPO in Syria and other countries.

  1. What are the strengths of your bank which make a difference with other Islamic banks in Pakistan?

Albaraka is the only Islamic group which has very large out reach all over the world. It is one of the prominent Islamic groups in the world. ABG having presence in 13 country  means that we have flavor of all these countries, which we can utilize in several different countries. Albaraka is little different than the other Islamic banks in Pakistan due to the blended flavor of other countries.

  1. In your opinion, which is the most responsive Islamic Financial product in Pakistan?

I would like to state that Murabaha is one of the major products of Albaraka Banking Group and especially of all the Islamic banks of the world. If we go 10 years back it was the only product of all the Islamic banks. Five years back, Murabaha used to be 90 % demanding and now it remained 58 % or 59 %. The fall in the ratio is because of other products.

  1. How would you like to explain state of the art banking services which is one of your chief motives?

State of the art means that u have to innovate all the time. Because technology today is developing much faster. In my opinion you can not be up to date all the times with the latest technology. As we have to move with the developed countries. If we go ten years back Pakistan was further 10 years back in technology and services from the developed countries. Now major gape is squeezed to 2 or 3 years only. Albaraka has played a major part in introducing latest products of Islamic banking. We are going to introduce a major system named MICS Equation, which is in the process of completion. Once it is completed we would be able to offer advanced technologies to our customers.

  1. Why did you change your logo when it was successfully promoted since 1992?

In 2002 when the ABG was founded and all the Islamic branches were gathered under one umbrella. It was a dare need to give entities, subsidiaries the independent identity like names, logos etc.  In the mean time, exercise was initiated to rebrand the group by our head office in Bahrain in June this year. They have come up with the new logo. Changing of logo does not give any negative impact rather it means changing the culture in the organization. Theme of new rebranding is the concept of partnership that is the core focus of Albaraka. In every organization you change to induce new strength in the group what we did in an organized way.

  1. As we have heard the news that AlBaraka is to start its work as a local bank so would u please tell us from when AlBaraka is starting operating as local bank?

We have a plan to localize our operations even in all our locations. We have got permission from the State Bank but the only delay is due to the financial situations all over the world, and certain issues in Pakistan. We’ll reconsider this process when the circumstances would be ok in Pakistan. I think we will restart it by the end of this year or in the start of next year

  1. Any message for True Banking?
True Banking Magazine has got a big name as it Organize big events, conventions, seminars in the country which help exchanging thoughts by scholars, researchers and advisors. Trainings which Alhuda CIBE offer are very regular, and their quality is very good. There are not many organizations who are giving trainings of Islamic banking to young professionals and it is much appreciable.
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