DOHA: Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) hopes to kick-start its investment banking operations in the UK this year itself, a top bank official has said. QIB chief executive officer Salah Mohamed al-Jaidah said the bank had submitted the application to the British regulators for a licence for the European Finance House (EFH).
“We are now going through the regulatory processes. We hope to get the licence shortly. In any case, we will get going in 2007 itself,” he told Gulf Times. EFH will help investors put their money into the European markets and market Shariah-compliant products in the continent.
Trade Finance, trade guarantee and refinance requirements based on Shariah principles will also be met by the EFH, al-Jaidah said. He said there was a huge appetite for Islamic investment instruments globally. Islamic banking is a rapidly growing segment. The current annual growth rate is between 25% and 30%. An estimated $700bn has already been invested in Shariah-compliant products worldwide.
This may soon touch the $1tn mark. Shariah-based financing for mega projects is the order of the day at many places including the GCC region. Increasingly, Shariah-based financing is being used for purchase of aircraft by regional carriers including Qatar Airways. Real estate is another sector that consumes Islamic financing significantly. In Qatar, Islamic banks now represent about 35% of the financial market according to the Qatar Central Bank.
Some five years ago, it stood at about 20%. QIB holds a major slice of Qatar’s Islamic financial market with 57%. Al-Jaidah said the decision to set up QINVEST at the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) was aimed at helping Qatari and regional investors deploy their funds in secure, lucrative and Shariah-compliant instruments in Qatar and abroad. Specialised investment banking is an area where traditional Islamic banks have not put much focus on.
“QINVEST will certainly help us do that. It will also spotlight on international real estate opportunities besides infrastructure development, power, energy, telecom, technology, financial advisory, sukuks and IPOs, particularly in the MENA region,” al-Jaidah said. QINVEST is the first Islamic investment bank at the QFC with a paid up capital of QR1.82bn.