Abu Dhabi’s Al Hilal Bank has been granted a license by the Financial Markets Authority in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan to open the resource-rich country’s Islamic bank; Al Hilal Islamic Bank. The bank opened its new branch in Kazakhstan becoming the first Islamic bank to have full-fledged branch in the country. The new bank is fully-owned by Al Hilal Bank with a capital of 36 million euros. The headquarters will be established in Almaty, with a second branch in the country’s capital, Astana. Operations will start on 25 March.
By end of this year, Al Hilal Islamic Bank will open two new branches. Al Hilal Bank Chairman Ahmed Ateeq Al Mazrouei said that the license was a result of the successful coordination between the two parties. The two governments signed an agreement to launch Al Hilal Islamic Bank in Kazakhstan in June 2009, after which the government of Kazakhstan facilitated the process for the license. The Chairman expressed hope that both parties would continue to support each other in future as well for achieving new heights of growth. He also said that the bank will provide best banking services to the local economy and will support investments and projects of Arab expatriates residing in Kazakhstan. Al Mazrouei noted that Kazakhstan is a promising economy as the country has plans to expand its infrastructure to develop projects that will be announced soon, especially in the oil, gas and infrastructure sectors, and expected that the bank will play a role in financing. The Islamic bank will be an ideal alternative to many of the neighboring countries which are now seeking Shariah-compliant banking products and services. The chairman said that Al Hilal Bank is currently examining other markets and carefully analyzing other areas for potential expansion. Al Hilal Bank has 14 branches, and has an expansion plan which aims to establish 20 branches by the end of the 2010 across the UAE.