Islamic banks set to flourish in GCC: Moody’s

Islamic banks set to flourish in GCC: Moody’s
As the regional economy expands, the asset quality of GCC Islamic banks is expected to remain robust. Shutterstock
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Updated 28 September 2023
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Islamic banks set to flourish in GCC: Moody’s

Islamic banks set to flourish in GCC: Moody’s

RIYADH: Against the backdrop of Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ economic diversification efforts, Islamic banks are poised to outperform their conventional counterparts in profit margins, as per a recent report by Moody’s Investors Service.

Fueled by stable oil prices and steadfast economic agendas, increased business activities within Islamic financial institutions over the next 12 to 18 months are anticipated in the GCC region.

In its latest report, the global credit rating agency forecast that the profitability margins of these Shariah-compliant banks will surpass those of traditional outfits in 2024, largely attributed to their inherent margin advantage.

As the regional economy expands, the asset quality of GCC Islamic banks is expected to remain robust.

Additionally, their strong capital and liquidity positions will better equip them to meet the growing regional demand for Islamic banking services, as outlined in the report.

The stable asset quality is set to be supported by the Islamic banks’ focus on household financing, which is expected to remain strong. Moreover, a large proportion of the banks’ activity is in the retail sector, which is likely to continue with a steady performance.

 “While Islamic banks focus mainly on the retail market, corporate financing remains a significant component of their credit exposure, including to the historically cyclical and confidence-sensitive construction, contracting and real estate sectors,” the report added.

The review stated that Saudi Arabia is set to maintain its dominant position in market penetration while highlighting significant growth potential in other regions.  

Elevated oil prices are rendering valuable ripple effects across the GCC region, resulting in consistent government spending, especially in the Kingdom.  

This will lead to a surge in confidence among businesses, consumers, and investors in non-oil sectors, such as in the UAE, where banks primarily lend, the report indicated.

Meanwhile, Moody’s predicts that inflation across GCC banking markets will remain relative to advanced economies, primarily driven by the substantial subsidies governments provide.

“As of March 2023, the market penetration of Islamic banks in Saudi Arabia, which is 83 percent, and Bahrain, 69 percent, were the highest in the region, while room for growth is more significant in the UAE, with a penetration rate of 28 percent, Qatar, 31 percent, and Oman, 19 percent,” the report stated.


Global Islamic banking sector set to reach $4tn by 2026 thanks to GCC: report 

Global Islamic banking sector set to reach $4tn by 2026 thanks to GCC: report 
Updated 40 sec ago
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Global Islamic banking sector set to reach $4tn by 2026 thanks to GCC: report 

Global Islamic banking sector set to reach $4tn by 2026 thanks to GCC: report 

RIYADH: The global Islamic banking sector is set to be worth $4 trillion by 2026, driven primarily by Gulf Cooperation Council countries, according to recent data. 

In their State of Fintech report, red_mad_robot, a digital enabler, highlighted that the Islamic banking sector saw a massive surge from 2018 to 2021, growing from $1.8 trillion to $2.8 trillion. 

“The leading role in the development of Islamic banking belongs to the GCC countries. They account for 43 percent of global Islamic banking assets, followed by other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region at 40 percent. Meanwhile, 59 percent of total assets are controlled by just two jurisdictions — Iran, 37 percent, and Saudi Arabia, 22 percent,” the report stated. 


Abu Dhabi’s financial sector set to grow 13% in 2023, says senior official 

Abu Dhabi’s financial sector set to grow 13% in 2023, says senior official 
Updated 8 min 36 sec ago
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Abu Dhabi’s financial sector set to grow 13% in 2023, says senior official 

Abu Dhabi’s financial sector set to grow 13% in 2023, says senior official 

RIYADH: Abu Dhabi is on track for a 13 percent growth in its financial sector in 2023 as part of its intensified efforts to diversify its economy beyond oil, a senior official reported. 

The forecast was announced during the Abu Dhabi Finance Week by Ahmed Al-Zaabi, chairman of the emirate’s Department of Economic Development, who emphasized the division’s importance on the local economy. 

“This year, our non-oil sector showed a robust increase, growing by an impressive 12 percent in the second quarter. Non-oil sectors now comprise nearly 54 percent of our total gross domestic product,” Al-Zaabi said, according to a report by the Emirates News Agency, known as WAM.

“Additionally, our non-oil foreign merchandise trade has expanded by 13 percent by the end of the third quarter this year. Such figures stand as a testament to our nation’s dynamic economic growth and diversified strength,” he added. 

Al-Zaabi further emphasized the importance of responsible utilization of wealth for the nation’s betterment, recalling the words of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.

“Wealth is not in money, wealth lies in mankind. This is where true power lies, the power we value,” Al-Zaabi said.

“We are delivering our promise. Today, Abu Dhabi’s Falcon Economy is accelerating our ambitions by exploring untapped potential, soaring to new heights of success. Our vision extends to the next phase of economic diversification and remarkable growth,” he added. 

Additionally, he acknowledged the economic challenges of the recent years, stating that they “have not been easy.” 

He highlighted Abu Dhabi’s resilience and adaptability, adding: “Economic winds have shifted, and the sands beneath us have been unsteady. But like the dunes of our magnificent desert, we too adapt and reshape ourselves.” 

Al-Zaabi also underscored Abu Dhabi’s dedication to renewable energy, framing it as more than a market strategy but a commitment to preserving the land for future generations. 

With entrepreneurship one of the main pillars of the UAE’s economy, Al-Zaabi further emphasized the importance of boosting the startup ecosystem. 

“Let us continue to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship. We must foster an ecosystem where young entrepreneurs can dive deep and emerge with pearls of innovation,” he stated. 


UAE supports global energy transition projects with $350m  

UAE supports global energy transition projects with $350m  
Updated 32 min 13 sec ago
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UAE supports global energy transition projects with $350m  

UAE supports global energy transition projects with $350m  

RIYADH: Renewable energy projects in emerging economies are set to receive a 1.3 billion dirhams ($350 million) financial injection from the UAE’s development bank.

This announcement came as the Emirates Development Bank and the International Renewable Energy Agency signed a collaborative partnership agreement.

This involves the Energy Transition Accelerator Financing Platform, an international renewable energy agency multi-stakeholder body aimed at expediting financing for projects in developing nations and facilitating funding for such initiatives, as reported by the UAE news agency, WAM. 

The deal was inked by Ahmed Mohamed Al-Naqbi, EDB’s CEO and Ahmed Badr, director of IRENA’s project facilitation and support division. The signing was attended by Sultan Al-Jaber, minister of industry and advanced technology, UN Climate Change Conference president and chairman of EDB, and Francesco La Camera, IRENA’s director general. 

Under the agreement, EDB will offer financing for projects endorsed by IRENA that align with the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainability Development Goals through the ETAF Platform. EDB will leverage its project financing expertise and engage in collaboration with other ETAF partners to secure funding for the suggested projects. 


Oman’s annual inflation rate reaches 0.3% in October

Oman’s annual inflation rate reaches 0.3% in October
Updated 56 min 52 sec ago
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Oman’s annual inflation rate reaches 0.3% in October

Oman’s annual inflation rate reaches 0.3% in October

RIYADH: A decline in prices for education, food and non-alcoholic beverages saw Oman’s inflation drop to 0.3 percent in October, compared to a rate of 1.27 percent in the previous month, official data has revealed. 

In October, education costs went down by 2.3 percent, while food and non-alcoholic beverage expenses slipped by 0.6 percent, compared to September, Oman News Agency reported, citing data from the National Center for Statistics and Information.  

The slowdown of inflation during October was also supported by stable prices across key sectors including clothes and footwear, housing and as well as water, electricity, gas and other types of fuel.  

In August, the inflation rate of Oman stood at 0.82 percent, while in July, it was 0.41 percent. 

Additionally, the report disclosed that the 0.3 percent inflation rate recorded in October was also lower compared to the 2.39 percent in the same month of the previous year.  

The annual drop in inflation was attributed to the drop in prices for education and transport which went down by 2.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.  

On the other hand, expenses for miscellaneous goods and services rose annually by 2.6 percent in October, while tobacco products prices surged by 2.4 percent.  

In terms of governorates, the highest inflation rate was registered by Al Dhahirah at 0.6 percent, while the governorates of Dhofar and Muscat registered a rise in inflation rate by 0.4 percent each.  

On the other hand North Al Sharqiyah, South Al Sharqiyah, Al Dakhiliyah and North Al Batinah governates witnessed an inflation rate of 0.2 percent each.  

In October, Jihad Azour, the International Monetary Fund’s director for the Middle East and Central Asia region, stated that inflation is gradually coming under control in the region.   

IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia which was released in May had also echoed identical views and noted that possibilities of a rise in headline and core inflation in oil exporting countries will be low in 2023.  

“Headline and core inflation in many oil-exporting countries like Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia remain relatively lower than elsewhere — as subsidies and caps on certain products, the strengthening of the US dollar to which many of the countries peg their currencies, and limited share of food in the consumer price index basket have helped to offset imported inflationary pressures,” said IMF in the report.   


Qatar’s economy shows resilience with 1% growth in Q2: official data 

Qatar’s economy shows resilience with 1% growth in Q2: official data 
Updated 28 November 2023
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Qatar’s economy shows resilience with 1% growth in Q2: official data 

Qatar’s economy shows resilience with 1% growth in Q2: official data 

RIYADH: Qatar’s gross domestic product experienced a 1 percent growth in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year, according to official figures released by the Planning and Statistics Authority. 

The year-on-year GDP estimates, calculated at constant prices, reached 170 billion Qatari riyals ($46.7 billion) during the second quarter. This outpaced the revised estimates for the same period in 2022, which stood at 168.4 billion riyals.  

However, the GDP at current prices faced a downturn, declining by 13.7 percent in the second quarter of 2023, totaling 186.3 billion riyals. This contrasts with the estimate for the same quarter in the previous year, which reported a figure of 216 billion riyals.