Islamic finance awards 2013: Al Rajhi Bank
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Islamic finance awards 2013: Al Rajhi Bank

Best Islamic bank in the Middle East
Best Islamic Bank in Saudi Arabia
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Best Islamic bank in the Middle East

Al Rajhi remains the right bank for the times: conservative, smart, comprehensive. There might be a time when the Middle East award goes to a house with bigger and more daring regional ideas, but today what Islamic finance in the region needs is stability and an admirable focus on doing the basic things well.

That’s not to say Al Rajhi is devoid of innovation; far from it. The Jabal Omar $1.33 billion ijarah mawsufah fi zimmah financing, for which Al Rajhi is the exclusive financial adviser, is a real estate landmark, anchoring the $6 billion Jabal Omar hospitality development near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, a vast deal requiring an innovative structure to deal with the complex land-title structures in Saudi Arabia’s holy cities. Al Rajhi devised an Islamic land-lease and asset ownership structure involving the safeguarding, but not the transfer, of title deeds by a Saudi-owned security agent, sufficient to give lenders comfort while remaining on the right side of sensitive Mecca property law.

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