As the Islamic finance industry enters a new phase of growth in the Sultanate, Dr Jamil El Jaroudi, chief executive officer of Bank Nizwa, joined government policymakers and regulators, industry leaders and experts as well as representatives of financial services at the Oman Forum to reflect on Oman's Islamic banking journey to date and identify measures to further enhance the industry.
Attended by over 300 participants, the 2014 edition of the forum explored current opportunities and challenges related to job generation and highlighted Islamic finance's strategic role in contributing to Oman's socio-economic development within the next four years.
During the discussions, Dr El Jaroudi stressed the need to build a regulatory framework that will work in tandem with that of conventional banking to overcome the challenges facing the industry's performance and customer expectations.
He also said that the expanding geographical reach of Islamic finance across the Sultanate coupled with increased awareness of the banking solutions available to citizens is expected to result in Islamic finance assets reaching 10 per cent of the total banking assets by 2018 in comparison to the current 4.5 per cent.
The customer response to Islamic finance in Oman has been phenomenal in such a short period of time. In order to ensure the industry's continued growth, it is essential to assess the takeaways and opportunities unveiled in recent years, while looking to support critical sectors such as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which represent 90 per cent of registered businesses in Oman, with financial solutions that can help them prosper," he explained.
"The Islamic finance industry is registering a solid 15 per cent to 20 per cent year-on-year growth as of the incremental growth in the overall banking sector and it is essential for both users and providers of Sharia-based products and services to capitalise on this opportunity," he added.
Today, Oman's Islamic finance assets are estimated at OMR1.1 billion as of June 2014 and could reach up to OMR7.1 billion in four years. Bank Nizwa has been and will continue to be a key contributor to this organic growth as proven by its latest financial results which registered an increase in assets of 49 per cent to reach OMR257 million, a 349 per cent surge in its customer financing portfolio and a 204 per cent growth in deposits to reach OMR101 million and OMR69 million respectively.
In addition to Dr El Jaroudi, the panel on Islamic finance also included Ali Hamdan Al Raisi, vice-president of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO); Sheikh Rashid bin Saif Al Saadi, chairman of Takaful Oman; Mohammed Al Kharusi, group director (Business Development) at Mohsen Haider Darwish (MHD) Group; and Abdul Samad Al Maskari, chief executive officer of Al Madina Financial and Investment Services Company.
(Times Of Oman / 15 November 2014)---
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