Abu Dhabi banks in first Islamic repo trade

National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank executed the Gulf region's first Shariah-compliant repo transaction, the two lenders said on Tuesday, in a move that will help mop up liquidity.

The two Abu Dhabi-based banks concluded a one week maturity deal valued at $20 million against both Malaysian and Abu Dhabi government-related Islamic bonds, or sukuk, the lenders said in a statement on Tuesday.

A lack of liquidity management tools is seen as one of the key challenges to the emerging Islamic finance industry, which has close to $1 trillion worth of assets globally. The religion's ban on interest rules out most interbank tools.

In June, the UAE Central Bank launched a repurchase facility for Islamic certificates of deposits to provide a new liquidity tool.

Repurchase agreements, also termed repos, allow banks to grant extra funds to lend or buy assets, thereby boosting liquidity.

NBAD said in February it expects the Islamic repo market in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region to be worth about $2 billion.