A big boom potential for Islamic finance in Egypt

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Ibrahim Warde, adjunct professor of international business at the Fletcher School of law and diplomacy at Tufts University, works on the Islamic Finance Project at Harvard University. He has authored three books — including “The Price of Fear: the Truth behind the Financial War on Terror” — numerous articles for Le Monde diplomatique and lectures at institutions worldwide on the topics of banking and finance. The TREND Training Center, along with the Egypt Stock Forum, invited Warde to instruct the “Islamic Banking and Finance” training program held recently in Cairo. Warde sat down with Daily News Egypt to discuss the development of and challenges facing Islamic financial institutions.

« Egypt is in a special position within the Islamic world in that there is a history in terms of some bad experiences, not with Islamic banks but with Islamic money management companies, around the 1980s, and I think it had a traumatic effect on Egyptian society.

So now could be a good time for sober reflection on all those questions and to understand, for example, how to set up the system that learns from past mistakes and, at the same time, does not forget the big issues of ethics and all those rules of conservative finance.

I think that there is a lot of pent-up demand for Islamic finance in Egypt. If you look at the population at large, there is a lot of interest in Islamic finance. As the Central Bank starts loosening restrictions, I think there is potential for a big boom. My understanding is that the potential is there for the Egyptian economy and high demand exists.

Paradoxically, one of the challenges is the very burst of interest in Islamic finance which is always a bit worrisome. With any sudden demand, the risk of a bubble forming and bursting becomes apparent. The main risk of Islamic finance is in fact in its popularity. Probably Egypt, because of the memory of what happened in the 1980s, would be very cautious of something that catches fire.

So that’s the kind of thing that financial regulators are very keen on making sure they can control: the growth, so that it doesn’t get out of hand. I would say this regulatory function is probably the main challenge. » Read Mr. Ibrahim Warde’s full interview

Tamweel commences Egypt operations

Tamweel PJSC, the largest real estate finance provider in the UAE, announced today the commencement of its Egypt operations during a special ceremony held in Cairo. It was attended by senior government officials including Osama Saleh, Chairman, Mortgage Finance Authority of Egypt.

Operating under Tamweel International division, the Egyptian company, Tamweel Emirates is a fully-owned subsidiary of Tamweel PJSC. It is set up with an authorised capital of 500 million Egyptian pounds (EGP), or AED 333.4 million, and a paid-up capital of EGP 100 million, or AED 66.7 million.

Tamweel International division oversees Tamweel PJSC’s international operations and expansions.

“We are extremely pleased to announce the launch of our operations in Egypt,” said Ahmad Abouzeid, Chief Executive Officer of Tamweel Emirates. “As the Arab world’s most populous nation, with the economy growing at around seven per cent annually, there is tremendous potential for real estate financing in Egypt. This demand has been further accelerated by the introduction of Mortgage Law of 2001 and several government-led economic reforms.

“Tamweel Emirates will forge strong relationships in Egypt and work with the government and leading developers to ensure that we are able to make a lasting contribution to Egypt’s economic growth and diversification.”

He added: “We will introduce our award-winning Sharia-compliant real estate finance solutions as well as new ones designed to meet the particular needs of the Egyptian market. We hope that our unmatched service and wide-ranging product portfolio will allow many to realise their dream of home-ownership.”

Sanjay Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of Tamweel International, said: “Tamweel has witnessed rapid growth in its home market, and enjoys leadership position in the UAE. We are now keen to implement our regional strategy and bring our expertise to the burgeoning real estate finance market in Egypt. We are confident that our commitment to the Egyptian market will help us in replicating this success.”

Tamweel has also signed an agreement with Al Oula Real Estate Development in Saudi Arabia, where the company expects to open a subsidiary later this year. By 2011, Tamweel anticipates international operations contributing 20-30 per cent of total revenues.

Tamweel recently announced record profits AED 387.3 million in the first half of 2008, consistently registering triple-digit growth.

Press Release, Tamweel, Dubai, August 4, 2008.