23/05/2018 09:01 AST

Despite the ongoing blockade against Qatar, QIIB, one of Qatar’s leading Shariah-compliant lenders, is on an expansion spree. It has announced to open two more new branches within this year, said a top official of the bank.

The upcoming new branches of QIIB will be located at ‘The Mall’ (in Hilal area) and the other one at Ezdan’s Al Wakrah Mall. Both the branches are expected to begin operations before the end of 2018.

The new branches are part of QIIB’s long-term strategy, as the bank is giving more focus on expanding and enhancing its operations and investments within the country, especially in areas which are easily accessible to people but still underserved. It recently opened two branches in shopping malls—one in City Centre and another in Doha Festival City.

“Last week we opened our latest branch in the City Centre mall, and hopefully before the end of this year, we will have two more branches,” Dr Abdulbasit Ahmed Al Shaibei, QIIB’s Chief Executive Officer, told The Peninsula on the sidelines of bank’s Extraordinary General Assembly (EGM) meeting held on late Monday. The EGM, which was presided over by Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani bin Abdullah Al Thani, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Managing Director of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB), approved all the items on the agenda of the meeting.

Commenting on QIIB’s overseas expansion, Dr Al Shaibei added: “The bank is currently focusing and monitoring its new investments in Morocco. We are waiting how that operation move and perform.”

In late November last year, QIIB officially opened the headquarters of Umnia Bank in Morocco, which is the result of a partnership between QIIB and Crédit immobilier et hotelier (CIH) and Moroccan Deposit and Management Fund. The bank has plans to expand its operations within the North Africa using Morocco as the regional hub of their operations.

On investments plans in South Asian markets, such as Pakistan, India, and others, which have huge growth potential for interest-free banking and financial services, Al Shaibei said: “We are aware about these markets and thinking about that, but it would be premature to talk about it as these markets are not currently under QIIB’s investment radar.”

Asked about the timeframe of the bank’s proposed plans to issue up to $500m sukuk in the international market, he said QIIB is still waiting for the right time. “We did a testing in international market and realised that there is a good appetite for Qatari debt, including sukuk and bonds, but we have not exactly decided when we will go. We are still waiting for the right time,” he said.

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