Mideast banks, funds seek to tap women’s wealth

Emirati housewife Sarah Alzarouni brushed past a group of women clad in traditional dress to enter through the frosted doors of one of Dubai Islamic Bank’s women-only branches.
Alzarouni greeted the female tellers and sat down to do business.
Many affluent Muslim women share Alzarouni’s sentiments and they are increasingly turning to Islamic banks to manage their money. These women are looking beyond basic banking services to sophisticated products to grow their wealth while complying with Islamic principals that include a ban on interest.
Financial institutions in the Gulf Arab region, where many women are reluctant to mix with men outside their families, are tapping into the niche, with women-only bank branches and investment funds mushrooming. Saudi Arabia is leading the charge.
Abu Dhabi-based Al Bashayer Investments, a conventional wealth management firm geared towards women investors, is also looking to launch Islamic products to address the needs of women in the region who prefer investments that are in keeping with their religious beliefs.