ADNAN CHILWAN

Dubai 2020 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

Dominating each side of the Indian Ocean is the key to accessing the world's largest potential market for Islamic banking.

Adnan Chilwan
BIOGRAPHY

A leading authority in the field of Islamic banking and finance, Adnan Chilwan is recognized as a key figure in driving the progression of Islamic finance across the globe. With an extensive banking career spanning over two decades with reputed conventional and Islamic banks, he currently serves as the Group CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank, the world's first shariah-compliant player and the largest Islamic bank in the UAE. Chilwan represents DIB on the boards of various strategic investments and subsidiaries, including holding the position of president commissioner at PT Bank Panin Dubai Syariah TBK, chairman of DIB Bank Kenya Ltd, and board member of Noor Bank, amongst others.

How do you assess Dubai's ability to establish itself as a model for Islamic finance?
Islamic finance has made an enormous impact on the global finance industry, with more and more banks establishing Islamic finance operations. According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019/2020, global Islamic finance assets have grown 3.5% YoY, exceeding USD2.5 trillion in assets in the global Islamic finance industry and are projected to reach USD3.8 trillion by 2023. There is no doubt that Dubai has played a significant role in this strong growth trajectory as the Emirate aims to become the global capital of the Islamic economy. The wise leadership of the UAE has simultaneously ensured a strong business environment conducive to innovation, growth, and transformation within the profession. Today, Dubai is widely regarded as the epicenter of Islamic finance between east and west and has established itself as a model not only for the industry but also the wider global Islamic economy, which includes key pillars such as halal food, travel, tourism, entertainment, art, and culture. It is also no coincidence that Dubai is the birthplace of DIB, the world's first Islamic bank. Notably, the Emirate is also one of the world's largest venues for sukuk listings, and a number of diverse issuances that meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria have been made this year, further evidence of the sustainability of the business model that Dubai is showcasing to the world

Can you elaborate on DIB's progress in integrating and developing fintech and other innovative solutions?
The global fintech market continues to grow and is now valued in excess of USD150 million and expected to triple in the coming five years to exceed USD150 billion. At DIB, we have always believed that continuous innovation is vital to our growth strategy. We have also always championed innovation in order to remain the most progressive financial institution in the world. Our primary approach to digital banking is always formulated with a clear focus on dissecting each step of the customer's journey and removing any pain points. Notable examples include the creation of paperless branches and our state-of-the-art mobile banking app. More recently, we launched Banking in Minutes, making us the first to own the element of 'time' in the industry. Now, UAE nationals and residents that were previously not DIB customers can open a bank account anytime anywhere within a few minutes via the powerful DIB mobile app, eliminating the need for them to visit a branch or complete copious amounts of paperwork. Going forward, the emergence of technology, robotics, and AI will all help provide opportunities for clients to experience ultimate banking. We continue to utilize and transform fintech to improve our internal processes, thereby enabling our customers to manage their finances more effectively.

What have been some recent highlights as the country's largest bank?
We have reported strong financial results over the years, with net profit crossing AED4 billion, up roughly 8% year-on-year in 2019. If we look at the last five years, DIB has transformed into a regional financial powerhouse on the back of a successful growth strategy, which has seen our balance sheet double in size and profitability more than quadruple. This has placed the bank among the top two Islamic banks in the world and the top three most profitable in the UAE. We have also grown our international presence, becoming a torchbearer in promoting sharia-compliant financial services across a number of markets worldwide. Our international expansion is focused primarily on the “PIK" region of Pakistan, Indonesia, and Kenya, which allows us to connect the dots from the Far East to South Asia via the Middle East and Africa. Our operations in Kenya serve as a stepping stone to tap into the growing market in eastern Africa. Simultaneously, the rebranded Panin Dubai Syariah Bank in Indonesia is set to serve a thriving population of 200 million, 95% of whom are Muslims. DIB has also prepared to position itself as one of the largest Islamic banks in the world through the acquisition of Noor Bank in 4Q2019, creating the region's most progressive sharia banking group.