Bank Dhofar Acting Chief Executive Officer discusses his bank’s plans and how it will support economic growth in the Sultanate
What impact is the lower oil price environment having on the banking sector in Oman?
The Omani government has been working to diversify the economy and to reduce the dependency on oil. Various developmental projects have been undertaken and investment infrastructure has been set to meet the requirements of the economy’s growth. The banking sector in the Sultanate is not separable from this. It plays an essential role in the overall growth of the economy and the development of the country in a broader sense.
The projects undertaken by the government didn’t stop or slow down due to the drop in oil prices. The execution of various large-scale investment and developmental projects is going on as planned and we haven’t noticed any change in that area.
What are your expectations for the growth of the Islamic banking sector in Oman in the coming years?
Islamic banking is playing an important role in helping diversify banking services and augmenting financial inclusion by reaching out to customers who prefer Islamic banking products and services. The availability of Islamic banking will further strengthen the penetration of banking services in Oman by providing options that were not previously available in the country.
Today in Oman, we have six Islamic windows and two Islamic banks serving the customers. The scope and range of Islamic finance products has also increased since the launch of Islamic banking in Oman, the Islamic financial institutions are currently serving needs of various sectors of the economy across the country by offering retail and corporate products and services serving individuals, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), large corporations and government institutions. So we can generally say that the Islamic banking sector in the Sultanate is continuing to thrive and going from strength to strength.
Maisarah Islamic Banking Services for instance has witnessed year-on-year remarkable capital, assets and profitability growth since its inception in 2013. More impressively, it has generated a suite of 15 financing products and services geared towards individuals, corporate and government institutions. In recognition of Maisarah’s efforts and remarkable performance, it has been named the “Islamic Bank of the Year–Oman 2015” by The Banker magazine and “Best Islamic Window–Maisarah, Oman 2015” by International Finance Magazine, in addition to “Best Islamic Community Support Bank 2014” by Global Financial Market Review and “Best Islamic Window in Oman 2013.” Maisarah has demonstrated a high degree of product and service innovation as well as strong activity in Oman’s burgeoning Islamic banking market.
What are your bank’s plans for the near term? What areas of the market look the most promising?
Having a closer look at the Omani economy, we see continuous growth and no signs of slowing down on the developmental projects despite the change in oil prices. This results in stronger confidence and encourages all sectors to continue to contribute to the growth and diversification of the national economy. We at BankDhofar have set our growth strategy to fortify our role as a leading financial institution. In addition to the unique products and services we offer the market, we also pledge to continue providing financial solutions to cater for our customers’ needs and requirements and to meet their aspiration. We have done well, and we will continue to add much value to the banking sector in the Sultanate by providing the best banking experience for our retail and corporate customers.
Supporting SMEs is one of the key pillars of our operational strategy, in addition to supporting larger corporates and government institutions through customised project financing solutions. We have also set plans to provide more job opportunities for Omanis and participate in the knowledge transfer and exchange of expertise in the business sector. We are committed to applying best international banking practices and to follow highest standards in the banking sector, employing state-of-the-art technology and opening doors for creativity and innovation. BankDhofar believes in its role as an integral part of the community, and our operational strategy includes various social initiatives that aim to support the community across the Sultanate, focusing on the environment, social development and staff engagement.
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