Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) eyes expanding its operations to Saudi Arabia and Algeria, said the chief executive officer of the biggest Islamic bank in the emirate and one of the biggest lenders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) here on Monday.
As ADIB is growing at double-digit rates in its home market the United Arab Emirates, "we are eager to expand within the Middle East and North Africa," said Tirad Mahmoud.
Earlier in July last year, ADIB received as the first UAE bank a license from the Iraqi central bank to start operations in the northern Gulf state.
"We are now planning to expand to Saudi Arabia and Algeria, as both markets look very promising," Mahmoud told Xinhua on the sidelines of the first two-day Global Islamic Economy Summit which started here on Monday.
While Saudi Arabia, a major oil supplier, is regarded as the center of Islamic banking in the Arab world, the gas-rich North African state Algeria was a relatively young market in the Islamic finance industry with ample potential, said Mahmoud.
Asked if ADIB would expand through acquiring other banks, the CEO said "We do not exclude anything." In the first nine months 2013, ADIB earned a net income of 1.107 billion Dirham or 246.34 million dollars, representing an increase of 15 percent year on year.
ADIB's local UAE rival Dubai Islamic Bank, on the other hand, looks to expand to East Asia. "At the moment, Dubai Islamic Bank does not plan to extend its operations in North Africa," Dubai Islamic Bank chief executive Dr. Adnan Chilwan told Xinhua.
Dr. Adnan Yousif, the chairman of Bahrain's first Islamic Bank Al Baraka Banking Group which already operates in Algeria said business in Algeria was performing "very well" as Al Baraka controls a six percent market share of Algeria's foreign currency exchange trade.
Islamic banks do not charge or grant interest but distribute profits based on a sharing model. According to Ernst and Young, global assets invested in line with Islamic law or Sharia reach 1. 2 trillion dollars this year, while the market is doubling in value every five years, translating into an annual growth of 15 percent.