DIB: new rules will boost transparency

Mohammed Amiri.

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), established in 1975, is the first bank to have incorporated the principles of Islam in all its practices. DIB is a public joint stock company and its share is listed on the Dubai Financial Market.

In a very short time, the bank has created market leading services and products that are setting benchmarks for the rest of the sector. In an exclusive interview with Emirates Business Mohammed Amiri, Executive Vice-President and Chief of Retail and Business Banking, describes some of the bank's achievements and outlines the challenges that face the sector.

How do you think the Central Bank's new regulations covering personal loans will affect banks, consumers and the economy?

We welcome all new regulations introduced by the UAE Central Bank. The changes introduced will over time help ensure greater transparency and enhance investor and business confidence. These regulations are put into place after considerable deliberation with experts. The central bank's regulations are designed to protect the interests of the consumer and the banking industry. Since our inception in 1975, we have worked hard to create financial products that are both ethical and follow the laws set forth by the central bank.

Are any new procedures being introduced by banks – including the Shariah-compliant ones – regarding borrowing policy?

We are well known as an innovative financial institution that is at the forefront of the Islamic finance industry. At this time there are no new procedures being instituted in regards to financing policy, but as a responsible financial institution we evaluate our customers fairly and thoroughly before offering finance to them. We follow a process of continuous improvement ensuring that our financial policies are always in agreement with the demands of the market and the country's regulatory institutions.

What is DIB's share of the UAE personal banking market?

DIB has a significant share of the personal banking market in the UAE. Since 1975 DIB has offered a complete range of personal finance products to suit virtually every customer's need. DIB is recognised as a pioneer and leader in the realm of Islamic finance globally. As a reflection of this, Global Finance magazine recently named DIB the best Islamic Retail Bank in the world. In 2007 DIB achieved a remarkable performance in every sector in which we operate – we had a growth of 30 per cent in car loans, 35 per cent in Al Islami personal finance, 35 per cent in credit cards and more than 50 per cent in home loans.

How important is the home finance sector to the bank?

The boom in the UAE real estate sector has opened up many opportunities in home finance for our bank. The real estate sector is a fast growing business for us. Currently we offer Forward Ijarah, Ijarah and Murabaha transactions which have been designed to enable the purchase of land or property, and Ijara, which allows a customer to finance a lease covering the purchase of property with an option to purchase outright later. The Murabaha transaction also offers a deferred sales option. These financing products cover the full spectrum of real estate financing needs of our customers.

What other banking products do you offer consumers and how have they helped to improve your business?

Our current account, savings account and investment deposits offer the best value with regard to the depository and savings needs of customers. On the financing side, we offer personal finance, auto finance, home finance and the award-winning Al Islami credit cards. Our Al Islami internet card gives customers the convenience of using a secure payment method. The electronic services offered by DIB are the most comprehensive in the market. Another innovation that DIB has championed is Johara, ladies' banking, which offers our female customers the full range of banking services in exclusive branches managed by ladies.

What challenges does the sector has face – particularly in this region?

The banking sector faces challenges that stem from an extraordinarily strong rate of growth from the region's economies.

What direction do you see retail banking going in the near future, especially the Islamic sector?

The potential for Islamic banking is enormous since it is customer-centric. Islamic banking, which is based on profit sharing and is interest free, is gaining popularity globally. DIB has expanded to countries such as Pakistan, where the demand for Islamic banking is huge.

How has information technology changed the world of retail banking?

IT plays a vital role in retail banking and DIB is at the forefront in adopting the latest technology. DIB today offers its customers the full spectrum of options to conduct their banking transactions, including Al Islami phone banking, mobile banking, internet banking, in addition to one of the largest networks of ATMs and cash/cheque deposit machines.

PROFILE: Mohammed Amiri, Executive Vice-President and Chief of Retail and Business Banking, Dubai Islamic Bank

Amiri has 17 years of experience in the banking sector and brings to DIB a comprehensive understanding of the financial market trends and operational issues in retail banking.

His most notable achievements include successfully spearheaded the expansion of DIB's retail network with the opening of 32 new branches in three years. And in 2003 he launched and oversaw the setting up of DIB's call centre.

Before joining DIB Amiri spent nine years with HSBC Dubai. His last HSBC post was branch manager of the Deira office – the second largest HSBC branch in the region.

Amiri was born in the UAE in 1967. He has a bachelor's degree in management information systems and is a graduate of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Executive Programme for Leadership Development.