TBY talks to Ahmed Saad Ibrahim, Deputy CEO of Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB), on trends in Islamic banking, the bank's role in the economy, and dealing with impacts from the global economy.
BIOGRAPHYAhmed Saad Ibrahim has served as Deputy CEO since early 2011, having been at SIB since 1998. He holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Cairo University. He is also a Certified Public Accountant. Prior to joining SIB, he worked with Qatar National Bank and Commercial International Bank, Egypt (formerly Chase National Bank). He has over 31 years of experience in the banking industry.
How would you rate SIB's overall results in 2015?
The overall results of SIB in 2015 are strong and a continuation of our progressive growth year after year with good profitability and strong structural indicators despite the global economic slowdown and depressed oil prices. Compared to our competitors, we are the fastest-growing bank in Sharjah in terms of our balance sheet, retail products, and branches. We are ranked 10th in the UAE in terms of the size of our branch network. Looking at the financial ratios for the bank, they are very strong compared to most banks in the UAE; for example, we have one of the highest capital adequacy ratios in the market. Regarding the quality of our portfolio, our non-performing assets and receivables coverage ratio is above 80%, which is a comfortable level, strengthening the bank's financial position and investors', stockholders', and rating agencies' confidence.
Do you identify a trend in some conventional banks offering Islamic products attracting new clients? Are some Islamic banks also offering services for non-Muslims?
There is a high demand for Islamic products, and Islamic banks are growing rapidly all around the world. There is a misconception that Islamic banking is only for Muslims, but that is not the case. It is a service like any other financial offering and is designed for all customers. Sukuks are being increasingly offered by conventional banks. In fact, many banks and governments are issuing more sukuks than conventional bonds. They are easier to sell, demand is high, and they are attractive to investors. Conventional bonds only target conventional investors, losing on those investors who want sharia-compliant products. Sukuk satisfies everybody. Some funds are also structured solely for sharia-compliant bonds and products. It is an asset-based bond; you cannot buy or sell something that you do not own. It does away with speculation, and so adds stability to the market and global economy. The cost of bonds for banks is higher than sukuks, even though it is the same risk and the same issuer, and that is because of demand. Demand is growing daily, and there is still plenty of room to grow in both conventional and Islamic banking.
Despite the current international economic situation, Sharjah is developing steadily. What role is the bank playing in the overall development of the economy?
We contribute effectively to all major projects in Sharjah, and especially infrastructure projects. We were also one of the managers and book runners of the government of Sharjah's first sukuk issuance in 2015. We are one of the highest contributors in the areas of social responsibility, the knowledge economy, and the development of UAE nationals. Social responsibility is one of our core values, and SIB contributes by taking part in different community activities and by supporting most organizations and causes in Sharjah, such as orphanages, special needs centers, cancer patients, health, education, and so on. SIB also contributes greatly to research activities in universities. We have special customized cards for students who can easily use them for access and funding. By law, as an Islamic institution, we have to reserve 2.57% of profits annually as a zakat fund to be spent on the community and this ethical component is fundamental to Islamic finance.
In your opinion, what is the current state of the Islamic finance industry?
In the UAE, the Islamic banking sector accounts for more than 17% of total banking assets and more than 19% of customer deposits, and the industry continues to grow despite the slowdown in the global economy and the sharp drop in oil prices. The UAE differs from other countries that depend on oil as the main component of GDP in terms of diversification of the economy. We are far less dependent on oil and gas than some other economies. That being said, oil is still the biggest sector and we are not spared from the global impact of oil prices, but through diversification we have added robustness to the UAE economy in general.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler, Sharjah
HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has been an inspiring leader of the Emirate since 1972, carefully watching over its development into the cultural capital of the Islamic world.read article
Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman, Department of Government Relations
TBY talks to Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations, on his department's role in coordinating the delivery of information to key stakeholders and the important part it plays in cultivating sustainable development.read article
HE Sultan Abdullah Bin Hadda Al Suwaidi, Chairman , Sharjah Economic Development Department
TBY talks to HE Sultan Abdullah Bin Hadda Al Suwaidi, Chairman of Sharjah Economic Development Department, on the resilience of Sharjah's economy and building on its well-diversified foundations.read article
HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman, Sharjah Media Corporation
TBY talks to HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Corporation & Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre, on competitiveness in the sector, its influence on the other Emirates, and expectations for the future.read article
HE Waleed Al Sayegh, Director General , Sharjah's Finance Departmen
TBY talks to HE Waleed Al Sayegh, Director General of Sharjah's Finance Department & CEO of Sharjah Asset Management, on fiscal policy direction and initiatives being introduced to increase efficiency and transparency from the top down.read article
Dr. Rashid Al Leem, Chairman , Sharjah Energy and Water Authority (SEWA)
TBY talks to Dr. Rashid Al Leem, Chairman of Sharjah Energy and Water Authority (SEWA), on the challenges facing the Emirate's plan to reach 30% water re-use by 2020, and changing the attitudes through education.read article
Mohammed N. Al Hazzaa, Director General , Emirates Company for Industrial Cities (ECIC),
TBY talks to Mohammed N. Al Hazzaa, Director General of Emirates Company for Industrial Cities (ECIC), on the company's performance, government support of the private sector, and forecasting occupancy trends.read article
Focus: Reducing water and power consumption
Under Dr. Rashid Al Leem's stewardship, Sharjah is aiming to become the first City of Conservation. This principally encompasses supplying electricity and water through sustainable avenues with technological efficiency while raising awareness of sustainability practices.read article
Ted Young, Project Head, Al Zahia Communities Business Unit at Majid Al Futtaim Properties
TBY talks to Ted Young, Project Head of the Al Zahia Communities Business Unit at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, on the reasons behind the market's resilience and the future of housing demands in the Emirate.read article
Focus: Mixed-use Developments
Cities within Cities
Sharjah's real estate sector is undergoing important transformations, with the government and developers focusing on megaprojects to attract investors. For this purpose, mixed-use developments are increasingly preferred to purely residential or commercial developments.read article
Focus: Fighting Cardiac Disease
The UAE Ministry of Health has stated that over half of all deaths in the UAE are the result of four oft-occurring issues: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, road traffic accidents, and congenital abnormalities. A survey from the Emirates Cardiac Society showed that almost 9 in 10 Emiratis are at risk of heart disease, with one in three unaware of that fact.read article
HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman , Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA)
TBY talks to HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), on the growing tourism sector in the Emirate, its strategies to boost cruise tourism, and the incredible progress in Sharjah.read article
Manal Ataya, Director General , Sharjah Museums Department (SMD)
TBY talks to Manal Ataya, Director General of the Sharjah Museums Department (SMD), on cooperating on international exhibits, its educational festivals, and the challenge to ensure that museums are accessible to all.read article
Hanan Al Mahmoud, Director, Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre (JRCC)
TBY talks to Hanan Al Mahmoud, Director of Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre (JRCC), on the appeal of Sharjah as a MICE destination, plans for expansion, and the projected benefits of Expo 2020.read article