Alizz Islamic Bank plans Q3 launch

Updated 17 April 2013

Alizz Islamic Bank plans Q3 launch

DUBAI: Alizz Islamic Bank, the second full-fledged Islamic bank in Oman, plans to begin operations in the third quarter of this year, chief operating officer Jamal Darwiche said.
Oman is the last country in the Gulf Cooperation Council to introduce Islamic finance; it granted licenses to Alizz Islamic Bank and Bank Nizwa late last year and rolled out detailed regulations in December.
“We are currently on track for the launch of our products and services during the third quarter of 2013,” Darwiche said.
“We are taking a careful approach, gaining valuable market insight and further refining our products and service offering.”
Last October, the bank raised 40 million rials ($ 104 million) by selling 40 percent of its capital through a month-long initial public offer of shares.
The Islamic lender is targeting a 3.5 percent share of financing and a 3.6 percent share of deposits in Oman’s banking sector by 2017, Darwiche said. It aims for annual growth in total assets, financing and deposits of 15-20 percent, and to build a customer base of between 65,000 and 100,000 accounts over five years.
To achieve this, it plans to build a network of 10 branches and between five and 12 customer service centers in the next five years, Darwiche said. Oman’s commercial banking network had 461 branches registered at the beginning of 2012, according to the latest available official data.
Alizz Islamic Bank counts Abu Dhabi state-fund Aabar Investments as a founding shareholder, as well as Bahrain’s First Energy Bank.
Alizz intends to launch products based on a variety of Islamic finance contracts including mudaraba, ijara, istisna and wakala.
“Our strategy is to develop a large array of simple and easy-to-understand Islamic products that cater to the diverse needs of commercial and retail customers across the sultanate.
“SME (small and medium enterprise) financing will be targeted at a later stage,” Darwiche added.
Rival Bank Nizwa launched operations in January with three branches and plans to open an average of five every year, targeting a total of eight by the end of 2013.
“In five years that should give you a network of 20 to 25 branches,” Jamil Al-Jaroudi, chief executive of Bank Nizwa, told Reuters in February. The bank says it aims eventually to take a 5 percent share of Oman’s overall banking market
The country’s Islamic banks will also face competition from conventional lenders which plan to launch Islamic windows themselves, in a sector that now has a total of 18 banks operating.
The sultanate reversed its prohibition on Islamic finance in 2011 after seeing economic and political benefits from the industry in neighboring countries.

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.


• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.