ISLAMIC BANKING

Qatar 2019 | FINANCE | B2B

Leading Islamic banks are ramping up their assets, minimizing their exposure to non-performing loans, and competing with the best of secular financial institutions.

Bassel Gamal
BASSEL GAMAL
Group CEO
Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB)
Adel Mustafawi
ADEL MUSTAFAWI
Group CEO
Masraf Al Rayan

What has driven your recent successes?

BASSEL GAMAL Being recognized as the “Best Islamic Bank of the Year" by The Banker for the sixth-consecutive year reflects the efforts and hard work of every single individual working for Qatar Islamic Bank. This ongoing success is the result of the support of our board of directors and the focused implementation of our business strategy. There are many other factors that have led to this recognition: QIB's major contribution to Qatar's financial sector, the government's commitment to diversifying the local economy and developing a strong private sector, QIB's leadership stand in the provision of sharia-compliant banking services, and the commitment and dedication of our teams to each one of our customers. Due to these factors, QIB has doubled in size in the past five years. Our assets that were worth QAR73.2 billion in 2012 reached QAR150 billion by the end of 2017, and as a result, we now hold approximately 12% of the total banking assets in Qatar, making us Qatar's second-largest bank. During the same period, we also outperformed the market in terms of profitability growth, having grown at a CAGR of 14.1% for the last five years. This growth trajectory continues into 2018 as we announced a strong 13.8% net profit growth in June 2018. At the same time, we are closely managing the ratio of non-performing financing assets to total financing assets, which at 1.2% in 2017, were one of the lowest in the industry. Such initiatives reflect the quality of the bank's financing assets portfolio and its effective risk management framework.

ADEL MUSTAFAWI Three areas have contributed to our growth: profit rate income, foreign exchange income, which made a significant contribution, and fees and commissions from our trade financing business. After the blockade, we started doing more trade with countries like Turkey and EU countries, and overall trade has increased, which contributed to the bottom line. We are confident that this growth trend will continue. Masraf Al Rayan is ranked first in terms of return on assets and efficiency and third in terms of profitability in the entire banking sector in Qatar. I never compare our bank merely to other Islamic banks, but to the sector as a whole. It is a business at the end of the day, and we have to compare ourselves with the market operators. We are a young bank but have been growing fast.

How are you improving banking culture in Qatar?

BG QIB is constantly evolving and promoting Qatar's banking culture. During the last few years, we introduced banking propositions specifically designed to address the financial needs of untapped or underserved market segments. I am referring to the introduction of Aamaly, our SME value proposition, which offers a comprehensive bundle of products and services tailored to the needs of this segment of companies, depending on their size, lifecycle, and area of business activity. Furthermore, we have introduced an online Wages Protection System (WPS), meaning that our corporate customers have an easy, fully automated, and efficient way to pay monthly salaries to their entire workforce. Equally important, our banking package for women offers dedicated channels of service, personalized attention, and customized offers. We have also introduced products supporting parents to secure their child's financial future, such as the Walady education plan, which is a long-term savings and investment plan coupled with Takaful protection for the parent, in addition to a child savings account. Finally, we recently signed an exclusive agreement with INJAZ Qatar, a leading non-profit, to sponsor and co-run a three-year financial literacy program for high schools and universities.

AM We have been part of this economy since our establishment. The industrial sector has always been an important sector for Masraf Al Rayan, especially the industries that add the most value to the economy. We are encouraging businessmen to add value to the Qatari economy and exports. In Qatar, with the industrial sector, we need to think first about the local market and then the international market; the infrastructure for this has been built already. Hamad Port in Doha is helping immensely in that regard. At the same time, Qatar is also strengthening its free zones, and new regulations are going in that direction. Once everything is functioning, it will add even more value to the local economy in terms of industrial exports and re-exports. Additionally, most industrial products are sharia-compliant, so the growth of the industrial sector will add a lot of value to the financial institutions that are sharia compliant like us. Banks in Qatar are well capitalized and have strong balance sheets across the line, and the next era of industrial sector will be a boost for us. In the past, we created great synergies with the infrastructure sector of the country. The second stage now after infrastructure will be the industrial sector.