Al-Hilal Bank launched in Kazakhstan


Rizvana Sadykova

Al-Hilal Bank launched in KazakhstanThe first Islamic bank in Kazakhstan has been established recently by Al-Hilal Bank of Abu Dhabi. The Kazakh Government is a proactive supporter of Islamic finance in a ready-made market with 60% of Muslim population. The Kazakhstan Islamic Finance conference was devoted to discussion of current situation, tendencies and prospects of local market and the way towards further development of Islamic finance and banking.

In his welcoming address Mr. Prasad Abraham, CEO, Chairman of Al-Hilal Bank confirmed that Al Hilal Bank has opened the first Islamic bank in our country. He told that there has been a number of questions raised about the wisdom of launching a new bank while the major economies of the world including Kazakhstan are still in the midst of one of the most severe financial crisis in recent memory. However, prior to this Al Hilal Bank successfully launched in 2008 and later established 14 branches in the UAE within a span of 18 months, the bright orange bank has taken its first strides in spreading Islamic Banking to international territories. The simple answer is that the decision to establish the first Islamic bank in Kazakhstan is underpinned by a much broader set of objectives. Al Hilal Bank is 100% owned by the Government if Abu Dhabi and its establishment in Kazakhstan is based on an intergovernmental agreement which was signed between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Government of the UAE. The mission of the bank is to raise the profile of Islamic banking globally while contributing to the national growth and prosperity of Kazakhstan.

He also told that Al Hilal Bank has ambitious plans for its operations in Kazakhstan but it will adopt a prudent approach to meet longer term objectives for the country. He concluded by saying “we believe that Islamic banking conference such as this will act as an effective forum to promote greater understanding of the underlying concepts of Islamic banking and also provides an opportunity to bring together investors and clients which a view to gaining a clearer understanding of the principles of Islamic banking”.

As it known Kazakhstan has set up the Regional Financial Centre of Almaty (RFCA) which includes the first academy in the CIS to offer education and training in Islamic finance. During conference Director of Islamic instruments JSC “RFCA” Aibek Bekzhanov spoke on activity of the RFCA on development of Islamic finance instruments in Kazakhstan. According to his words we cooperate with leading Islamic financial institutions, develop and implement changes in legislation governing Islamic financial instruments. Training activities works on Islamic finance and analytical researches have been done. In perspective we have to consult with international experts, attracting foreign investments, work with leading Islamic Finance Companies and interact between leading Islamic educational centers.

I am glad to welcome all participants of conference “Kazakhstan Islamic Finance Conference 2010” (KIFC).

In his welcoming address Mr. Gany Iskaliyev COE of the Development Bank of Kazakhstan pointed out that today “all over the world the market of Islamic financial services is actively developing. Methods of its financing strongly occupy the niche. More and more large international banks and the investment companies introduce and offer products of Islamic financing”. He added that in the light of issues which were set by the Head of our country on becoming Kazakhstan as the regional center of Islamic banking in the CIS and the Central Asia and entering into ten leading financial centers of Asia by 2020, necessity of development of Islamic financing especially increases. He also told that “development of Islamic financing will make positive impact on the general investment climate of our country”. With introduction of its standards a new investment capital of large international financial institutions will be attracted to Kazakhstan. It is assured that conference becomes not only effective platform for discussion of actual questions of Islamic financing and adaptation of its financial instruments in Kazakhstan market, but also become a serious basis for development of this sector.