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2-day forum builds up momentum for Islamic banking operations in Oman

​Bank Muscat well positioned to provide Islamic financial expertise to diverse segments
MUSCAT, 5 November 2012 - The 2-day Muscat International Islamic Finance Forum, hosted by Bank Muscat's Meethaq Islamic Banking in association with Amanie Advisors, a leading global Shariah advisory firm in the field of Islamic finance, concluded on Monday (5 November 2012), serving as a vibrant platform for industry leaders and experts to discuss new possibilities and collaborations in Islamic banking and finance.
The forum was held under the auspices of HH Sayyid Assad bin Tareq Al Said, Representative of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, and attended by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, who delivered the keynote address.
Sulaiman Al Harthy, Group General Manager - Meethaq Islamic Banking, Bank Muscat, said: “Meethaq, the pioneer of Islamic banking in Oman, is proud to host the forum which helped in building up momentum for the launch of Islamic banking operations in Oman. The forum benefited everyone attending the event and spotlighted Islamic banking and finance tools and the future of Islamic capital markets."
Sulaiman Al Harthy said: "As the nation's leading financial services provider, Bank Muscat is well positioned to provide Islamic financial expertise to diverse segments and thereby promote the good of society as a whole. The bank has taken major strides as part of its proposed Islamic banking operations and assigned RO 150 million capital for Meethaq Islamic Banking, subject to approval from the Central Bank of Oman. The bank is proud to have on board some of the brightest minds in Islamic finance to chart the way forward."
Muhammad Nadeem, Head of Islamic Banking, Bank Muscat, participated in a panel discussion on 'Structuring Sukuk for New Markets'. The panel of experienced practitioners provided a clear perspective on what needs to be done in light of the current state of credit markets to bolster new sukuk issuance.
Since the beginning of 2000, sukuk have become an important Islamic financial instrument in raising funds for long-term project financing. The first sukuk were issued by Malaysia in 2000, followed by Bahrain in 2001.  Since then sukuk have been used by both the corporate sector and states for raising alternative financing.  By 2011, over $19 billion had been raised through 30 issues of sukuk bonds on the London Stock Exchange, the forum noted.
Over 500 senior industry figures, global investors, Takaful operators and bankers as well as top Shariah scholars attended the forum and shared their insights and knowledge on prevailing global best practices in Islamic banking and finance.
Specifically, discussions centred on the current state of Sukuk market, new opportunities for Takaful providers, winning strategies for distributing funds; and issues faced by new Islamic banks in Oman, such as asset-liability management, treasury and inter-bank money markets."
A key focus at the forum was on assessing the 'Asset-Liability of Islamic Banks: The Issue of Islamic Liquidity Management'. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, the forum also discussed how to manage new finance opportunities in the MENA region. Islamic finance in North Africa was another area highlighted in the forum.
Spotlighting on BancaTakaful, the forum provided a new dimension to Takaful distribution in the most cost-effective and profitable way to bring this product to markets. 'Takaful in New Markets: Prospects and Challenges' was another topic discussed in the forum which was designed to be practical with ideas and solutions to encourage participation and exchange of information.