The Business Year

Fahad Al Khalifa

Group CEO, Al khaliji

Adel Mustafawi

Group CEO, Masraf Al Rayan

Strategies for growth will naturally include expansion overseas to better support customers and reach out to new markets.

How important is geographical diversification for the bank’s growth?

FAHAD AL KHALIFA Our subsidiary, al khaliji France, with offices in Paris and the UAE, is an important part of the group and our strategy. It provides a physical presence in Europe and the GCC that allows us to serve all our Qatari clients when they have opportunities outside of the domestic market. Not only does our subsidiary continue to make a solid contribution to the group’s income base, but the branch in France also enjoys excellent interactions with the French corporate sector as well as colleagues, clients, and VIP representatives of the French private sector. As part of our acquisition of BLC Bank (France) S.A., we were able to gain strong foothold in the UAE and launch our entire range of products and services via the bank’s branches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, and Sharjah. Our operations in Qatar, the UAE, and France stem from our vision to bolster our identity not only as a Qatari and regional bank but as a cross-border financial institution that meets the needs of our premium customer base whenever and wherever they are.

ADEL MUSTAFAWI Masraf Al Rayan has a good share of Islamic banking operations in the UK. In 2014, we acquired Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB). And after increasing its capital, we multiplied its size by six-fold. Approximately 85-90% of its clients are UK citizens. Most of the group’s growth is now coming from our UK operations, as we have customers from European countries that are interested in our services in London. In this sense, we are looking at expanding in France because of its high trade with the region. When we move to a new market it is not to serve the Muslim population; it is about sharing a product that is transparent, ethical, and profitable to corporates and individuals.

What methods does al khaliji employ to ensure high security standards?

FAK One of our missions at al khaliji is to play an active role in enhancing the performance, boosting the stability, and securing the foundation of the financial sector in Qatar. We fully understand the critical importance of information security in achieving that in the local banking industry, and specifically at al khaliji. This is why we have adopted the latest technologies, consulting with experts in the field in order to ensure that we protect our sensitive data against security risks and ensuring our clients’ privacy, while focusing on the latest threats facing banks and financial institutions such as payment fraud, card fraud, online banking threats, and mobile banking risks.

How do you assess the development of the sharia-compliant segment since the introduction of Al Rayan Islamic Index in 2013?

AM The first Islamic financial institution was established only 30 years ago, and now the sharia-compliant banking segment holds a 25% market share. Analyzing the market, Islamic banking’s growth has been much higher than conventional banking over the last three decades, and there are many reasons behind it. Above all, it is more transparent and ethical than conventional banking. We deliver a type of product that both the client and the bank have previously agreed upon and, the two parties know what is required from each other. Therefore, we have seen a great expansion of Islamic banking even beyond Muslim countries. It has become reputed in Europe, and the UK wants to become an Islamic banking hub.

What challenges do you anticipate for the bank going into 2017?

FAK We always strive to be one step ahead, which is why, in 2017 and beyond, we will continue to build on a strong customer franchise with a further expansion into the mid-cap segment. We are also looking at capturing project financing landmark transactions from the early to completion stages, which will largely play into the diversification of our corporate portfolio as well as premium vertical. Furthermore, we are zooming in on the SME segment through our financing and commercial banking services, and looking at adopting a bolder stance on our product and service development for startups.

AM Qatar is committed to all of its projects inside and outside the country. Most of the infrastructure developments are still on, including the stadiums and the rail projects. At the same time, the expected budget deficit for this year is based on a lower oil price prior to OPEC’s January agreement. Therefore, the current higher oil price might cover the deficit. We arwill have a great year. This will add a great deal of value to the financial sector.



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