Jan. 11, 2015


Hussain Al Qemzi

UAE, Dubai

Hussain Al Qemzi

Group CEO, Noor Bank & Noor Investment Group

BIO

Hussain Al Qemzi is a seasoned banker with over 28 years of experience working with the leading financial institutions in the UAE. He is currently the CEO of Noor Bank, and also leads Noor Investment Group. Before Noor Bank, he was Chief Executive of Sharjah Islamic Bank and a former Board Member of the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) and the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX). He also served as COO of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and is credited with laying the groundwork for Dubai to become a world-class financial hub.

Noor Bank is regarded as an icon in the region in terms of innovation and quality of service. In light of your recent rebranding campaign, what have been your milestones over the past year?

Noor Bank has now recorded three consecutive years of profitability. As we continue to recover, along with other banks, from the effects of the 2009 financial crash, we see significant growth across all sectors of our business. At the same time, we are delivering increased efficiencies, by innovating our business model, whilst remaining focused on the fundamentals of capital and liquidity management. In the past 12 months, we have launched two new businesses: Noor Trade, which has a focus on the important SME sector, and Noor Home, which will provide home finance for the growing number of residents and overseas buyers wanting to own a home in Dubai. Other similar initiatives are in the pipeline. We also continue to roll out our digital platforms, which are increasingly popular with customers who want the convenience of banking when and where they wish.

How is your portfolio evolving and which segments will you be focusing on?

Our asset base has grown from AED18 billion to AED25 billion over recent years. Our processes are maturing and our customer base is maturing with us. Our customers have stayed with us for a long time, and our relationship with them is reflected in our strong customer retention rates, our robust growth, increasing profitability, and the diversity of the organization. We have developed a new focus on the SME sector under Noor Trade. We have also introduced Noor Home, and we have plans to launch other segment-specific initiatives in the future.

What is your opinion of Dubai becoming a global Islamic finance capital, and how do you see Noor Bank helping Dubai achieve this goal?

Dubai is the natural home for the Capital of the Islamic Economy initiative, which is the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. It is the birthplace of Islamic finance as we know it today. The first Islamic bank was established here. And much of the innovation in Islamic finance is being driven by the country's Islamic banks, including ourselves. But the Islamic economy is not just about finance. It is first and foremost about trade, particularly intra-OIC member state trade, which today is minimal. Dubai is ideally situated to bridge the gap between the Islamic economies of the East and the conventional economies of the West. No other city in the Middle East has the logistics infrastructure and connectivity, by air, sea, and land that Dubai has.

From a regulatory point of view, what can be done to further accelerate the development of the Islamic economy?

There is still much work to be done. The issue of standards is quite broad and complex. There always have been, and always will be, differences of opinion between sects and between schools of scholars. What is needed is a minimum agreement on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. The industry needs to drive this and not leave it to the regulators. I have said before that it is the industry's responsibility to challenge the regulators, whoever they may be, with new thinking, new ideas and new products. This is as true at the local and regional level, as it is at the global level.

How is your expansion into Turkey developing?

We continue to be the largest provider, from the UAE, of multi-currency, Islamic syndication and capital markets solutions to Turkish institutions. In 2013 alone, we successfully executed more than $1.8 billion of Islamic syndications, sukuk, and capital market mandates to various clients in Turkey. We enjoy excellent relationships with Turkey's participation banks and have built up significant expertise in leading and arranging cross-border, multi-currency financing mandates. Turkey is and will continue to be an important international market for us. As the Turkish economy grows and the demand for corporate funding increases, I am confident Noor Bank will expand its footprint in Turkey.

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