As Oman's economy expands it will need the support of a growing financial sector to sustain the healthy growth rate and Islamic finance will add a new dimension, offering innovative options in this regard, according to Sohail Niazi, chief Islamic banking officer at Maisarah Islamic Banking Services, the newly established Islamic banking window of BankDhfoar.
Speaking at the official launch of the Maisarah branch in Azaiba on Wednesday, Niazi said that as Islamic banking gets established it will bring economic benefits to the people of the sultanate.
He said, "Alternative financial solutions will create more competition in the market, that will eventually reduce the cost of products and services as conventional and Islamic banks compete to become more efficient and customer-centric."
"Oman's economy is growing at a healthy rate and for this growth to sustain it will need the support of a growing financial sector and Islamic finance will add a new dimension offering innovative options at both the consumer- and corporate-level."
"I am very pleased and confident that with this launch we have begun building a solid foundation of an Islamic banking window that will become the best-in-class. As a new Islamic banking operation, we know we will face challenges. But Islamic finance offers opportunities that are much bigger than the current challenges," Niazi added.
He said the global Islamic finance and banking industry is estimated to be worth US$1.3tn at present.
"In the last six years alone the total value of Sharia-compliant assets has grown by 150 per cent. This growth has continued even in the face of the global financial crisis that has been hard on individuals, companies, markets and even countries big and small."
He said that population growth and associated economic growth in Muslim countries around the world is one of the key drivers of growth in Islamic finance.
"Islamic finance calls for the banking industry to focus on its core function of providing financial services that add value to the real economy. Islamic finance tenets ensure a close link between financial transactions and the real economy, strongly discouraging excessive risk taking and prohibiting speculation," added Niazi.