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Meethaq seminar highlights steps to sustain Islamic banking in Oman

MUSCAT,  23 March 2013 – Thomson Reuters, the leading global news and information provider for the world's businesses and professionals, in partnership with Meethaq, the pioneer of Islamic banking in Oman from Bank Muscat, hosted a seminar on 'Developing a sustainable Islamic banking industry in Oman' on Sunday (23 March 2014)  at the bank's head office. H.E Shaikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Salmi, Executive President of the Capital Market Authority (CMA), presided at the high profile seminar attended by policy makers, Shari'a scholars and key representatives of the Islamic banking industry in Oman and the region, in the presence of AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive of Bank Muscat.

H.E. Shaikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Salmi commended Meethaq Islamic Banking and Thomson Reuters for hosting the seminar which assumed importance in highlighting steps to promote and sustain Islamic banking with quality products and services. “The seminar echoes the Islamic banking industry's consolidation phase in Oman focusing on investment opportunities and liquidity management tools to achieve sustained growth during the coming period," H.E. Shaikh Abdullah added.

Sulaiman Al Harthy, Group General Manager – Islamic Banking, said: “Meethaq is delighted to join hands with Thompson Reuters in hosting the seminar as part of initiatives aimed at creating a robust Islamic banking industry in Oman. Against the backdrop of the Islamic financial services industry gaining momentum in Oman, the seminar seeks to provide a strategic assessment focusing on innovative Islamic financial instruments and liquidity management products. The Islamic finance industry is growing very rapidly worldwide and this is a great opportunity for new Islamic banks as well as conventional banks to come together and create an environment which should make all of us proud, balanced with the Shari'a Law, Central Bank of Oman's guidelines, public demands and expectation and the rule of law as a whole.

Dr. Sayd Farook, Global Head - Islamic Capital Markets, Thomson Reuters, said: “The seminar deals with a very important and timely assessment of the future of Islamic banking industry and how Islamic financial institutions in Oman can grow in an increasingly competitive environment."

A session on the future of Islamic banking industry covered the strong demand of retail market potential for Islamic banking in Oman, exploring the options of full conversion to Islamic banking rather than opening dedicated windows, how Islamic banks can differentiate themselves and what customers are looking beyond Shari'a compliance in Oman.

In another session on capturing the opportunity with sukuk as a catalyst for foreign investment in Oman, the seminar highlighted how sukuk can offer local investors and financial institutions added portfolio diversification and investment opportunities in the form of new asset classes, whilst issuers can benefit from increased liquidity by tapping into the growing demand for Shari'a-compliant investment products.

The session also addressed the investment sourcing potential which has not fully developed among corporates, while regulators are proactively trying to enhance the regulatory framework to support issuance. The session discussed regulatory aspects and ways to enhance issuance and attract market participants in order to build a vibrant market for Omani sukuk.

Another important discussion centred on developing indigenous and innovative solutions for liquidity management for Oman's Islamic finance industry. The session explored new liquidity management products to fill the yield curve and liquidity management issues faced by the Islamic banking industry.