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Qatar: Al Rayyan Bank opens its doors

Qatari bank aims to become world’s largest Islamic player after IPO.

By Feridoon Koohi-Kamali

Excess demand for Islamic financial products in the Gulf is likely to find a new source of supply with the launch of Qatar’s Al Rayyan Bank, which aims to become the biggest Islamic bank in the world.

Al Rayyan Bank has strong institutional backing to achieve its aim. Its promoters are the state-sponsored Qatari Diar, a newly established real-estate company, and the Qatar General Retirement and Pension Authority. Between them these held 45% (QR3.37 billion – $926 million) of the bank’s initial capital.

The involvement of the bank’s promoters with foreign firms provides a glimpse of the kind of global expansion it might undertake. Qarati Diar, for example, is a big company in the international property market. The company’s Lusail development is Qatar’s largest domestic real estate project. Diar is in a 51%-49% joint venture with France-based company Vinci, and has set up a management joint venture with Singapore’s CIAM, both covering real estate investment locally and abroad, including in Morocco and Egypt.

Moreover, in Hussain Ali Al Abdullah it has a chairman with a long history of involvement in the development of Qatar’s financial sector. As a member of the Qatar Investment Authority, he oversees the management and evaluation of the government of Qatar’s investment funds at home and abroad; he is also a former director of the government of Qatar investment office in the finance ministry.

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