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Monday, 7 January 2008

Dubai's Noor Islamic Bank starts,plans global buys

DUBAI, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Dubai's Noor Islamic Bank started operations on Sunday, part of the emirate's plan to create a global sharia-compliant lender to meet growing demand for belief-based services among the world's 1.8 billion Muslims.
Noor, 25 percent owned by the government of Dubai and 25 percent by the emirate's ruler, opened 10 branches in the United Arab Emirates, six of them in Dubai, Chief Executive Officer Hussein al-Qemzi told reporters in Dubai on Sunday.
The founders, including the UAE federal government, established the bank in 2006 with share capital of 3.16 billion UAE dirhams ($860.3 million).
"Our vision is to be the world's ultimate Islamic bank," said Qemzi. "The aim is to have a bank that is large enough, of good quality and global in its approach to represent the ambitions of this city," he said.
Dubai, which is ruled by Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is benefiting from an economic boom in the Gulf, spurred by a five-fold increase in oil prices during the last six years.
During that time, the emirate's DP World has grown into the world's fourth-largest contain port handler after acquiring Britain's P&O, and state-owned Borse Dubai has offered $5 billion to take over Nordic and Baltic stock market operator OMX as Dubai diversifies its investments.
Noor plans to expand "aggressively" and "ambitiously" into Europe, Africa and Asia during the next five years through acquisition, licences or partnerships, Ahmed Aljanahi, the bank's deputy group CEO, told reporters.
There are "serious discussions" with parties about this, he said, declining to be more specific.
Noor is a full-service bank that is initially focusing on providing consumer and corporate services.
Islam bans the receipt of interest, equating it with usury, and instead encourages banks to share more in the profit or loss of investors.
Islamic banks controlled assets worth about $750 billion at the end of 2006, a figure which may rise above $1 trillion by 2010 as the industry expands, according to U.S. management consultants McKinsey & Co.
Dubai, which has also bought into Deutsche Bank AG and HSBC Holding Plc last year, intends to build two of the world's 10 largest financial institutions by 2015, Dubai official Omar bin Sulaiman told Reuters in March.

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