Ahlibank, which launched its Al Hilal Islamic banking services in the sultanate on Tuesday, is considering changing most of its retail banking branches to Islamic banking soon.
“We are looking forward to convert our retail branches to Islamic banking and we hope that will happen very soon. We plan to switch all our retail banking services to the Islamic banking system. We are looking at starting with branches in Ibra, Nizwa and Sur and this may happen in the coming month,” said Abdullah al Jabri, DGM and head of Al Hilal Islamic Banking Services.
“There is a good indication that people are more interested in Islamic banking. During our soft launch on Sunday, we opened more than 40 accounts in one day. On Tuesday, we received above 250 calls enquiring about our services. Islamic banking may have 70 per cent of market share within the coming three to five years,” he added.
Jabri also made it clear that the financial side of the new Islamic banking service was completely separated from conventional banking. “We have dedicated capital for Al Hilal and it is separate from Ahlibank. We are a different entity and we have dedicated staff who work independently of the conventional bank.
“We have been gearing up over the last one year to ensure a smooth start for our Islamic banking services. Through the five branches launched today and another one next month, Al Hilal Islamic Banking Services will strive to provide customers with high quality leading Islamic banking services.
“Our products are designed to highlight both the social and economic side of Islamic banking. The branches are ready to provide both retail and commercial products from the very start,” he added.
Commenting on the products that will be on offer for customers, Jabri said, “One of the unique and salient characteristics of Islamic banking is the integration of ethical and moral values with banking operations. These ethical and moral consideration of Islamic banks cannot be detached and their behaviour should be consistent with the moral and ethical standards laid down by the Sharia. We have made this a central pillar of all our products and services.”
“We are optimistic that Al Hilal Islamic Banking Services will not only be up to the expectations of our customers, but will also ensure optimum levels of transparency and truth in Islamic banking transactions. We will remain committed to ensuring transparency and meeting the needs of customers and achieve the government's vision towards developing the Islamic banking service sector in the Sultanate, he added.