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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Moroccan consumer market ready for Islamic finance

The study was independently commissioned and published by IFAAS (Islamic Finance Advisory & Assurance Services). It sets out the market opportunities for financial institutions interested in developing an offering for the Moroccan consumer market. It provides a full analysis of the consumer demand for Islamic retail banking, finance and Takaful and measures the likely consumer response and take-up to such products.
The report analyses consumers’ current consumption of financial products and services and their attitudes towards conventional, interest-based retail finance. It then gauges their appetite for Shari’ah-compliant retail financial products. This includes their likelihood to take up Islamic loans and savings accounts, their price elasticity towards these products and their likely speed of response to the launch of such products. The subjects of Shari’ah compliance, distribution channels and preferred providers are also covered.
The report summarises its findings:
  • The level of interest in Islamic financial products and services is very high, at over 90 per cent, within the general public in Morocco. The majority of consumers are dissatisfied with interest-based banking but, having no Halal options, find they are compelled to engage in conventional finance.
  • Providing the technical Shari’ah compliance aspects are managed properly, Islamic finance poses a significant opportunity for financial institutions in the North African Kingdom.
  • Following the introduction of an Islamic finance system, the Moroccan retail finance market will see a significant growth in the penetration of banking and finance products amongst consumers. Providers will see a marked shift away from conventional, interest-based, products and the current low banking penetration will change to a high of consumption of assets and liability products.
Commenting on the findings, Farrukh Raza, managing director, IFAAS said, “Islamic Finance in Morocco – Sizing the retail market is the first specialised independent report providing an insight in to the Moroccan consumer’s appetite for Islamic finance products and services. The findings from the report reveal that consumer interest in Islamic finance has the potential to be much bigger than currently expected. The challenge for decision makers is to ensure that their early critical decisions are based on accurate market information to ensure long term success. IFAAS’ report and findings have proved invaluable for many institutions considering their next move.
“Institutions are considering key questions such as whether to focus on customer retention or acquisition, which products to launch first, how to price their new products and how to distribute them. ‘Islamic Finance in Morocco – Sizing the retail market' contains these and other findings and offer a wealth of information that will help shape critical business decisions. It is helping businesses to plan their resources, design their communications and understand what is required to achieve a strong market share in this dynamic market.”
IFAAS commissioned a local research firm to undertake the quantitative survey. Random, face-to-face, street interviews were conducted on a weighted sample size of over 800 individuals, reflecting a true picture of the Moroccan consumer market. The target sample was composed of men and women aged 18 to 55 years, from a variety of socio-economic categories, living in urban and rural areas and consisted of both banked and unbanked groups of the population. In terms of geographical coverage, the study was conducted in towns and surrounding rural municipalities of Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Agadir, Fez, Tangier and Oujda.

(C.P.I Financial / 10 June 2012)

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Pakistan: Demand to make Islamic banking mandatory

KARACHI:Addressing at a seminar on a case study on “A Blend of Contemporary and Religious Education”,  held at the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), Jamiatur Rasheed Education Director Abdul Aziz Raja said that under the banking ordinance Islamic banking in Pakistan should be mandatory.
Islamic banking in Pakistan is being practiced on the basis of supply and demand and not as mandatory by the government, said Raja.
He said that the Supreme Court should order enforcement of Islamic banking. “Islam is a complete code of life instead of traditions and rituals and gives a complete economic system”, said Raja adding that in order to implement Islamic banking and financial system only 5% work has been done in the country and the rest is yet to be done.
He said that Jamiatur Rasheed has introduced various courses on Islamic financial system and economic principles and offer graduate and post graduate courses on banking and finance, accounting, book-keeping, supply chain and marketing, etc. He invited the trade and industry’s representatives to visit the campus.
The KATI Chairman Ehteshamuddin said on this occasion that interest free banking is the need of the hour. He pointed out that interest free banking is being practiced in Japan and a few western countries while Pakistani businessmen are being charged double digit interest.
He said that at this juncture when religious institutions have forgotten modern and technical education, Jamiatur Rasheed which is imparting most modern education is an asset to the nation. He advised that like Jamiatur Rasheed other religious institutions should also impart technical and other modern education to their students.
All Karachi Industrial Alliance President Mian Zahid Hussain announced that a delegation of industrialists will visit Jamiatur Rasheed. Sardar Yasin Malik advised the religious institutions to also provide technical education to their students to that they could be able to compete with other people in the field. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2012.

(The Express Tribune / 08 July 2012)

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Qatar Bank Consortium Closes $1 Billion Funding Deal on $1.65 Billion Doha Real State Project

When it comes to doing big real estate deals in the Mideast, there are few countries that can swing them as easily as Qatar, one of the smallest and wealthiest nations on the globe.

Bawabat Al Shamal Real Estate Co. (Basrec), a joint venture between Al-Futtaim Real Estate, Qatar Islamic Bank and Aqar Real Estate Development and Investment, has signed  a QR3.7 billion  ($1.01 billion U.S.) syndicated facility to fund the development of its Doha Festival City project.

Doha is the capital of Qatar whose population is 1.8 million. The country's land mass totals 11.437 kilometers or about 4,416 square miles, slightly smaller than Connecticut at 5,543 square miles.

(1 QAR = $0.2743 USD)

The QR6 billion ($1.65 billion U.S.) Doha Festival City is being developed by Basrec on a 433,847 square meter plot (4.7 million square feet or 108 acres). The plot will include 260,000 square meters of gross leasable area in retail space. The space will offer over 500 retail units which will include a large number of new brands to Qatar.  (1 sq meter = 10.7639104 square feet).

The project will also boast of the first Ikea store in Qatar, and will feature an entertainment and leisure complex, automotive showrooms, international hotels and convention center.

In a news release, Marwan Shehadeh, the general manager of Basrec, said the 10-year facility was the largest Qatari private sector syndicated transaction completed to date

'We are pleased to announce this transaction as the agreement today is a key step on the road to developing this major project," Shehadeh said. "This financing will ensure the work on Doha Festival City will progress well and according to plan."

He added, "We are pleased to be working with such strong and committed banking partners. The signing of this transaction is a testimony to the confidence that our banking partners have in this distinguished and iconic project."

QInvest acted as financial advisor to Basrec and the sole bookrunner for the facility. Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) and Barwa Bank took the mandate lead arranger (MLA) roles.  CBQ, the original lender, also acted as the lead and documentation bank on the conventional tranche as well as the conventional facility agent.

Barwa Bank was the lead and agent bank on the Islamic tranche, also taking the role of Islamic Documentation Bank.

The MLAs were joined in the facility at lead arranger level, across the two tranches, by Ahli Bank, Doha Bank, International Bank of Qatar, Al Khalij Commercial Bank (al khaliji), Qatar International Islamic Bank and Qatar National Bank.

The development is located just north of downtown Doha on Al Shamal Road, one of the main arterial routes to the city center. This is the route that will eventually connect Doha with Bahrain via the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway.

International analysts are confident that with its strategic positioning, the super-regional complex is ideally equipped to meet the retail, hospitality and entertainment needs of not only Qatar, but also of neighboring countries.

In the first phase, the 32,000 square meter Ikea store will be completed by the first quarter of 2013, while the remaining components of Doha Festival City will be delivered in 2015.

In the release, Ahmad Meshari, the acting CEO of Qatar Islamic Bank, said his group was "pleased that our confidence in this project demonstrated by our investment is supported by Basrec's banking partners through this transaction. We are confident the project will have a positive impact on the local economy, reflecting our strong commitment to the economic development of Qatar.'

Andrew Stevens, the group CEO of Commercial Bank of Qatar said, 'We consider this as an important transaction for Qatar as a whole and CBQ is honored to be leading the banking group in partnering with Festival City to deliver on the iconic plans for this development.'

Barwa Bank CEO Steve Troop said, 'We value the relationship that we have built with Doha Festival City and believe that the management of the project has a strong history which complements our strategy to strengthen our portfolio. In this regard, we are pleased to be leading the Islamic tranche of the financing.'

Shahzad Shahbaz, the CEO of QInvest, said the success of the deal was a testament to the efforts of the teams involved in the project and the transaction.

QInvest has advised Basrec and its shareholders through a number of initiatives and we are pleased with the partnerships that have been brought together to develop Doha Festival City,' he added.

(World Property Channel / 10 July 2012)

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