Salama plans expansion

The Islamic Arab Insurance Company Salama plans to expand its investment portfolio to 25 Shariah-compliant funds by the end of 2008.

Noel D'Mello, Head of Family Takaful, said the company – which at present offers 13 funds – would add the additional ones within the next few months.

"We are currently negotiating with four investment firms… and hope to finalise the deals before the end of the year," he added.

D'Mello told Emirates Business that Salama aimed to offer its clients different options to suit varying levels of risk appetite. The company also enabled customers to invest in major funds with very small monthly instalments.

"These major funds need large minimum capital to invest in them, for example at least Dh10,000. However, our clients can invest in such funds for as little as Dh200 per month through Salama's accounts in these funds."

D'Mello's comments came as Salama announced a link-up with Oasis Crescent, winner of the best global equity fund title at the Failaka Islamic Fund Awards.

"Salama presents an assembly of diverse Shariah-compliant unit-linked insurance products to its clients and the funds of Oasis Crescent can be accessed through these products for as little as Dh200 per month," added D'Mello.

"Salama has entered into several strategic tie-ups with eminent Islamic fund management companies to spread Shariah-compliant savings and insurance products within the UAE. We entered into this collaboration with Oasis Crescent to allow the public to have access to the funds from this award-winning company."

Salama General Manager Parvaiz Siddiq said the company was keen to provide high-quality and affordable solutions.

D'Mello said Salama's Shariah-compliant life insurance, or Takaful, scheme, which was launched in March, was progressing well. "We started from a very low base but the scheme is achieving 100 per cent growth every month. The Islamic life insurance scheme made great progress during the first quarter since we started and this is very exciting for the Takaful business in the country."

Life insurance represents less than 15 per cent of the total insurance market in the UAE. More than 85 per cent goes to other insurance products such as car and health policies. Studies predict that the Islamic insurance business in the GCC will expand to $4 billion (Dh14.7bn) this year. This sector is growing by 28 per cent annually.