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Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Al Salam Bank a major player in Sudan's Islamic banking sector

Khartoum, Mar 24, 2008 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX) -- Sudanese President, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, today inaugurated the new premises of Al-Salam Bank of Sudan, located downtown the capital, Khartoum.

The inaugural ceremony, which was conducted amidst a big fanfare, attracted a large number of dignitaries, including ministers, members of the diplomatic corps and economic personalities, including the board chairman of Al-Salam Bank, H.E Mohammed Ali Al-Abbar and other board members and senior officials of the bank.

Having unveiled the plaque to declare the bank officially open, President Al-Bashir, accompanied by Al-Abbar and deputy board chairman and managing director of the Al-Salam Bank - Sudan, toured the various sections of the building premises to have first hand information about its facilities. He was briefed about the banks, facilities, development and activities.

In a keynote address, Al-Abbar expressed profound gratitude to the Sudanese president for taking time-off to officially open the new premises of the bank. He said the bank had now become a major player in Sudan's Islamic banking sector, thanks to the rapid growth of Sudan's economy and the giant leap forward made by the country's balanced economic development and transformation in its journey towards a total integration into the regional and international economy.

He said: "Our sister country, Sudan, is currently witnessing a rapid growth. Having made great progress towards achieving its targeted five-year development plan (2007-2011), including maintaining inflation rate to within the 8.8% limit on the average and achieving 10% GDP growth rate against the world?s rate of 9.3% in 2006. Generally, this reflects Sudan's success in its economic policies as well as the success of its financial and fiscal policy tools." He added: "The establishment of the Al-Salam Bank - Sudan, came as a fruit of cooperation between Sudan and its sister countries in the Gulf. This bank is a natural extension and significant development in bilateral relations between the private sectors of Gulf countries, in general, and those of the United Arab Emirates, in particular.

This sector has great impact on Sudan's economic drive having involved in many investment projects in various areas, including in the banking sector, through which Al-Salam Bank is making generous contributions in Sudan?s economic growth." "One of the main objectives behind the establishment of Al-Salam Bank is to play a leading role in the Islamic banking market by introducing and adopting unique banking products and solutions, designed by experts in this sector which is now taking a centre stage in the region's banking market, which now boasts of a total assets of more than US$450 billion." He pointed out that Al-Salam Bank - Sudan had achieved outstanding financial results in the few years of its existence having achieved in 2007 an income of 61.4 million Sudan Pounds (SP) (about US$30 million), compared to SP52 million (about US$25.3 million in 2006. The figures include the profit of depositors after tax and Zakat deductions.

He said the bank had also succeeded in achieving great results in meeting the demands of Sudan's Central Bank for the last quarter of 2007 in accordance with the CAEL indices which ranked the bank's performance under the Strong category. This is a commendation we are striving to maintain and add more to it," Al-Abbar added.

In delivering his keynote address, Al-Salam Bank's deputy board chairman and managing director, Hussein Al Meeza, applauded the significant role his outfit is playing in Sudan. He said: "Islamic banking is rapidly gaining grounds in various parts of the world in view of its innovative banking solutions, which made people opt for it increasingly. Reports now show that Islamic banking assets will be hitting a trillion dollar mark by 2010." He added: "Financial statistics also show steady growth in the number of people preferring to deal with Islamic banking and finance system, deposit has reached US$58 billion, while the assets of Islamic financial institutions continue to surge rapidly from the US$20 billion recorded in 1997 to US$84 billion in 2005.

Growth rate of the Islamic banking industry has also appreciated by about 35% with about 270 Islamic banking institutions now operating worldwide. This reflects a major switch from the conventional banking system to Islamic banking and investment system. It also provides the answer to why the free flow of investors' cash and kind to the Sharia-compliant investment opportunities in Europe, the Arabian Gulf, the Middle East and Asia." On the new building premises of Al-Salam Bank - Sudan, Al Meeza said the premises had been furnished with the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to enable the bank operate at the highest international standards. He added that the bank also boasts of a superb architectural design, making it an architectural masterpiece and a major landmark in downtown Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

He pointed out that as part of its plans to rapidly spread its wings in major Sudanese towns, the bank has conducted studies for the opening of four branches by the end of this year. They include a branch on the Africa Street in Khartoum.

"A license had already been acquired from the Sudan Central Bank for the opening of this branch which is now being refurbished for operation. This branch is scheduled to be opened soon. Other branches are located in the towns of Umm Durman, Khartoum Al-Bahri and Port Sudan," he said, adding that Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) will be placed at various vantage points in Sudan to facilitate access to easy transaction of business for Al-Salam Bank clients.

"The bank's strategy also focuses on its human resources, which is a vital component of the strategy. Al-Salam Bank has succeeded in employing Sudanese national cadres to whom it offers regular training and development opportunities inside Sudan and abroad to boost their technical skills," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Al-Salam Bank -Sudan has held an ordinary general assembly meeting at the Nile Ballroom of Al-Salam Rotana Hotel. The general assembly approved a proposal by the bank's board for distribution of (10%) dividend to shareholders.

The general assembly reviewed a number of reports, including the bank's financial activities report released by the bank's board for the fiscal year ending 31/12/2007, a report issued by the Fatwa and Sharia monitoring Authority regarding the bank's operation. It also reviewed a report of the bank's auditors, the profit and loss accounts and discussed and approved the general budget and the profit and loss account for the fiscal year ending on December 31, 2007.
The general assembly cleared the board members and the auditors for their activities during the fiscal year ending December 31, 2007.

The assembly appointed auditors for the fiscal year 2008 and decided their remunerations and entitlements. And election the bank's board for new period.

It's worth mentioning here that Al-Salam Bank - Sudan, which started operation in Sudan in May 2005, is one of the biggest banks on the Khartoum Stock Market.

The bank has achieved fantastic financial results in the few years of its existence.
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