Maisarah: Pioneers of Islamic priority banking services in the Sultanate

Maisarah, Islamic window of BankDhofar announced the launch of Oman's pioneering Sharia compliant priority banking services. Maisarah's teams of relationship managers are offering special products and personalised services. Ease of access is one of the features among other privileges that Maisarah has to offer through priority banking centers in the Muscat and Dhofar region. Customers can reap the benefits of savings accounts based on the Mudharaba contract as well as auto financing based on the Murabaha concept without lengthy procedures at preferential prices and services. Under the guidance of the Sharia compliant Board of Directors, Maisarah's banking solutions are on display at their stand-alone branches, which have been designed to minimize wait time and enhance each customer's experience.

Oman's Alizz Bank preparing for Q4 launch

Oman's Alizz Islamic bank has announced the completion of its comprehensive training plan, as part of preparations for to launch operations in the fourth quarter of the year. The training programme introduced branch, call centre and operational staff to the Shari'ah-compliant lender's full range of Islamic products and services and its corporate values.

Moody's: Special Comment - Islamic Banking in Oman: Solid Growth Prospects Moderated by Industry Challenges

Following the introduction of the Islamic Banking Regulatory Framework (IBRF) in December 2012, Omani banks are now allowed to offer Islamic banking services. Moody's views this as credit positive for the banks as expansion into Islamic banking has the potential to strengthen their franchises and diversify revenue generation, particularly for the largest banks in the system, which will be able to leverage their existing infrastructure and networks.

Launch of Sharia-compliant products in ODB’s agenda

Oman Development Bank (ODB) is considering the launch of an Islamic window to offer Sharia-compliant products to small and medium-sized firms. After Oman adopted Islamic finance in December by issuing regulations for the sector, developing Islamic finance and smaller firms are two policies which the government hopes will cut unemployment. Government-owned ODB is likely to opt for an Islamic window instead of a full-fledged conversión into an Islamic bank. The Islamic window is not expected to start operating before the end of this year. Under the rules for Islamic windows, ODB would only be able to offer Islamic products through stand-alone branches, which would require converting some of its existing 15 branches or opening new ones.

Sohar Islamic rolls out Shari'ah-compliant home finance scheme

Bank Sohar's Islamic banking arm, Sohar Islamic, has launched a Shari'ah-compliant home finance programme, as part of its plan to expand the products and services portfolio. The new product features flexible terms, which offer financing for up to 80% of the property value, with a repayment period of up to 25 years.

Bank Nizwa obtains investment banking licence

Bank Nizwa, Oman's first full-fledged Islamic bank, has received an investment banking licence that will allow it to manage funds and issue instruments such as Islamic bonds. The bank launched operations in January and is gradually rolling out a range of sharia-compliant products, aiming to grab a 5 percent share of the country's overall banking market in five years. In December, Oman became the last country in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to adopt Islamic finance, issuing extensive regulations for the sector.

Oman sukuk gets regulatory approval

Oman’s first corporate sukuk has received regulatory approval and the five-year, RO50m ($130m) private placement aims to close next month. It will be issued by Tilal Development Co and the proceeds will be used to repay existing debt and expand the Muscat Grand Mall. The sukuk, rated BBB+ by Capital Intelligence, will pay a five percent profit rate and use an ijara structure, a common Shariah-compliant leasing arrangement. Omani domestic investors such as pension funds and insurance firms have expressed interest in the sukuk and it could have a broader regional appeal, in particular from Qatar. A corporate sukuk could also be welcomed by local Islamic banks, which are eager for access to more sharia-compliant investment products while Oman’s Islamic money markets are underdeveloped.

Al Madina Insurance plans IPO to convert itself into takaful firm

Al Madina Insurance Company is planning to float an initial public offering (IPO) in the fourth quarter of this year in an attempt to change its status to a Sharia-compliant takaful firm. As per the draft takaful regulation, insurance companies have to be public firms to function as takaful companies. The promoters will reportedly divest 40 per cent of their holding in the company in favour of investing public through the IPO, which will be a premium issue. Al Madina Insurance, which has branch operations in several parts of the country, has a capital base of OMR10 million. Besides, three other companies made similar proposals: Al Maha Ceramics, Sembcorp Salalah Power and Oman Arab Bank. Al Madina has received an 'in principle' approval from the Capital Market Authority for converting its status into an Islamic insurance firm and a final approval will be given only after the company lists its shares on the Muscat Securities Market (MSM).

Corporate Analyst Officer – Islamic Banking

Corporate Analyst Officer – Salalah Branch, Islamic Banking

•Maintenance of lending portfolio aimed at quality customer service and maximizing contribution to Maisarah profitability.
•Analyzing financial statements, business processes of customers and preparing credit proposals as per standards defined by Maisarah Islamic Banking.
•Recommend facilities / excesses to the appropriate authority /Management as per authority matrix for approval through defined channels.

Senior Officer Reporting – Finance (Islamic Banking)

Responsible to ensure timely & prompt preparation of all Finance reporting within Bank for MIS purposes and to external authorities for Regulatory purposes. Ensure all transactions are complied with IFRS, AAOIFI and local regulatory requirements. Ensure reconciliation of all bank’s reconciliation via NOSTRO accounts, CBO, and Inter Branches etc. Responsible to update bank’s General Ledger and Chart of Account. Review of Bank’s financial performance and its comparison with approved budget. Ensure timely and accurate charging of Fixed Assets Depreciation, staff salaries payments & bills payments etc. Assist Financial Controller in managing day to day Finance Department operations.

Head of Treasury - Islamic Banking

Responsible for Islamic treasury products and has in-depth understanding of liquidity management, bank funding strategy and the money markets. Able to demonstrate strong understanding of funding strategy and can translate into a tactical issuance plan.

Tax Law amendment proposal for Islamic banks submitted

KPMG has submitted its recommendations for amending the country's tax law to the Ministry of Finance. The recommendations aim to ensure that Islamic financial institutions are on a level playing field with their conventional counterparts. According to Ashok Hariharan, partner and head of Tax for KPMG in Oman, the recommendations aim to ensure that Islamic financial institutions are put in neither an advantageous nor a disadvantageous position compared to its conventional peers. The recommendations of the international audit firm will circulate among different ministries and agencies to finalise the amendments. Apart from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Legal Affairs Majlis A'Shura will also look into the KPMG report and put forward their recommendations. If everything goes well, the amendments will be announced sometime towards the end of the year.

Bank Nizwa teams with INCEIF

Bank Nizwa and INCEIF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), under which the institutions will collaborate to jointly provide structured training and development initiatives for Omani nationals working in the Islamic Finance Industry. The MoU was signed at the Oman Islamic Economic Forum (OIEF), held recently at the Al Bustan Palace. The OIEF, the brainchild of Amjaad Development and Bank Nizwa, took the theme of 'The Islamic Economy: a Culture of Excellence'. INCEIF, The Global University of Islamic Finance, was set up by Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia) to develop human capital for the global Islamic finance industry. The collaboration aims to provide thought leadership training to the Omani Islamic finance industry in order for the regional and global industry to benefit.

Oman’s Alizz Islamic Bank Eyes Q3 Launch -COO

Omani lender Alizz Islamic Bank, the second full-fledged Islamic bank in the sultanate, plans to begin operations in the third quarter of this year, according to its chief operating officer Jamal Darwiche. Last October, the bank raised OMR40 million ($104 million) by selling 40 per cent of its capital through a month-long initial public offer of shares. It is targeting a 3.5 per cent share of financing and a 3.6 per cent share of deposits in Oman’s banking sector by 2017. Moreover, it aims for annual growth in total assets, financing and deposits of 15-20 per cent, and to build a customer base of between 65,000 and 100,000 accounts over five years.

Islamic banks need comprehensive marketing approach

Omani Islamic banks are expected to follow a comprehensive marketing approach to promote themselves as an alternative for traditional Banks. In other words, Islamic banks need to apply Sharia-compliant recent banking applications. At the meantime, they should consider the risks of financing goods and assets according to Murabaha and Musharakah basics. Islamic banks in Oman will only succeed in introducing and marketing their services/products by satisfying clients’ requirements through saving and financing means. Thus, they should start to conduct studies as well as R&D for Islamic products. Moreover, flexibility is an effective factor to successful banking processes.

Oman approves two sukuk issues

Oman's market regulator has given its initial approval for two local firms to issue sukuk. The Islamic bonds will hit the market after clearing the formalities for final approval, said the chief executive of the Capital Market Authority, Abdullah bin Salim al Salmi, without revealing the names of the companies.

Meethaq Sharia Board inducts 2 more members

The Sharia Supervisory Board of Meethaq conducted its first meeting of 2013 under the chairmanship of Shaikh Dr Ali Qaradaghi. The board inducted two new members — Abdulqader Thomas and Dr Saeed al Muharrami. The two experts in the field of Islamic banking will serve as non-Shari’a members and assist the Shari’a voting members, providing insights on various Islamic banking issues. The board reviewed Meethaq activities during 2012 and discussed the strategy for the coming period.

Oman to consider licences for foreign Islamic banks in 2-3 years

According to the executive president of Oman's central bank, Hamood Sangour al Zadjali, the country has no plans to allow foreign Islamic lenders to set up operations in the sultanate. Opportunity will be given to local banks first to see how the market develops. He mentioned that they will observe the market for two to three years and then decide whether to add more banks or not. Currently, two Islamic banks and six Islamic banking windows are operating in Oman.

Oman urges consolidation of banks to be competitive

Oman's Capital Market Authority (CMA) is encouraging consolidation in the country’s crowded financial sector, aiming in the long term for local banks to build a regional presence in the Gulf region. There are now 18 banks in the sultanate, whereas Oman’s three largest lenders account for approximately two-thirds of banking assets. According to Abdullah Salem Al Salmi, CMA’s executive president, the crowded field could lead to cutthroat competition, which would be unhealthy for the market and cause new entrants to struggle. However, he did not specify any ways in which the CMA might encourage consolidation.

Bank Nizwa seeks relaxation for investing funds overseas

Bank Nizwa is going to request the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) for allowing the bank to get relaxation in deploying funds in overseas markets for a certain period, until Sharia-compliant products are available within the domestic market. Dr Jamil Jaroudi, Chief Executive Officer of Bank Nizwa said there are restrictions in the new law that do not allow Islamic banks to achieve their full potential. The law for sukuk and takaful need to be issued, and the banking regulations have to be adjusted in order to attract Islamic investment, he added. The CBO needs to frame regulation for short-term instruments, which will allow Islamic banks to deploy their excess liquidity.

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