The inaugural Islamic Retail Banking Awards (IRBA) took place on November 17, 2015, at the prestigious Taj Hotel Dubai in the vibrant city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the 7th World Islamic Retail Banking Conference, and was attended by more than 200 Islamic bankers and finance practitioners from around the world. The awards ceremony was organised and managed by Cambridge IF Analytica, which is a UK-based financial services intelligence house that specialises in developing and utilising powerful cutting-edge analytical tools to evaluate business data, assess macroeconomic indicators and understand market trends.
IRBA is the first-of-its-kind Islamic banking awards programme based on the most academically rigorous analysis of global Islamic banking efficiency performance. Winners are rigorously assessed by a panel of independent experts based on the new efficiency model developed by Cambridge IF Analytica. These prestigious awards honor individuals and institutions who have demonstrated great commitment and made significant contribution to the development, growth and success of Islamic retail banking.
IRBA celebrates excellence and best practices in Islamic retail banking in two categories:
• Strongest Islamic Retail Banks – award winners are selected based on a pathbreaking Islamic banking efficiency study conducted by Hamdan Bin Mohamed Smart University, which ranks over 132 Islamic retail banks.
• Critics’ Choice Awards – award winners are rigorously selected by the Critic’s Choice Committee, which comprises of leading Islamic banking experts from around the world.
Strongest Islamic retail banks should be considered the safest Islamic banks in terms of doing business with, both by customers on the liabilities side and those seeking financing from or doing business from these banks on the assets side. We believe that efficiency of operations and management should be the key factor in determining the safety level of a bank rather than its size. Unlike the Safest Bank Rankings by Global Finance Magazine, we employ a robust methodology to measure efficiency of Islamic retail banks. We expect that our ranking of Islamic retail banks will become a benchmark in assessing the performance of Islamic retail banks all over the world. Critics’ Choice Awards, on the other hand side, take into account wider factors in determining winners in a number of categories.
In the inaugural IRBA, a total of 25 awards were presented to Islamic banks and individuals, including a technology firm and an education of higher learning. A total of 10 individuals and institutions from the UAE were honoured with various categories of awards, representing 40% of the total number of award recipients. However, the coverage was global. Pakistan, Sudan, Malaysia, Oman and Saudi Arabia each took home 2 awards. Other countries represented in the awards ceremony included Kenya, South Africa, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan.
Islamic Retail Banking Leadership Award 2015
Hussain Al Qemzi, Group CEO of Noor Investment Group and CEO of Noor Bank – UAE
The Islamic Retail Banking Leadership Award is the most prestigious award in IRBA, and is decided by the Critics’ Choice Committee. Hussain Al Qemzi was chosen to receive the inaugural award for leading Noor Investment Group since its inception to-date to uplift Noor Bank to become one of the most visible Islamic retail banking brands in the UAE.
The bank faced numerous challenges in its short history but Mr Al Qemzi saw it through troubled times, and rebranded it from Noor Islamic Bank to Noor Bank to increase its mainstream relevance. During his tenure as CEO, Noor Bank was rated A- by Fitch in 2014. The Critics’ Choice Committee considered the distinguished career of Mr Al Qemzi as CEO of Sharjah Islamic Bank, which under his leadership was recognised as a respectable Islamic bank after its full conversion from a conventional bank. This was indeed followed by his on-going role as CEO of Noor Bank.
IRBA CEO of the Year 2015
Mohammed Qasim Al Ali, CEO of National Bonds – UAE
National Bonds is a unique retail investment product that has received Best Islamic Saving Product Awards for the last three consecutive years. The man behind this success is none other than Mohmmed Qasim Al Ali, the founding CEO of National Bonds Corporation. The Critics’ Choice Committee decided to honour his contributions by unanimously voting Mohammed Qasim Al Ali as the IRBA CEO of the Year 2015.
Upcoming Personality in Islamic Retail Banking 2015
Asad Batla, Head of Consumer Banking at Bank Nizwa – Oman
Asad Batla, currently serving as Head of Consumer Banking at Bank Nizwa, has an illustrious career in Islamic retail banking. Prior to joining Bank Nizwa, he served the then newly established Noor Islamic Bank in the UAE. His instrumental role in developing the consumer banking franchise of Noor Islamic Bank was rated highly by his current employer who persuaded him to join the first full-fledged Islamic bank in Oman. Since joining Bank Nizwa, Mr Batla has developed an impressive consumer banking franchise of the bank, which is fast emerging as a premier bank in the country. The Critics’ Choice Committee opined that Asad Batla possesses both experience and expertise to assume a leadership role in an Islamic bank in the near future. This was the main reason behind choosing him as the winner for the Upcoming Personality in Islamic Retail Banking of the Year 2015.
Upcoming Shari’a Scholar in Islamic Retail Banking 2015
Mufti Aziz ur Rehman – UAE
In a very short span of time Mufti Aziz ur Rehman has established himself as an influential Shari’a scholar in Islamic retail banking and finance. As a hard-working Shari’a scholar, Mufti Aziz ur Rehman has acquired a number of formal qualifications, including from Accounting & Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). He is at present pursuing a PhD at University of Management & Technology (UMT) Lahore, after which he is expected to rub shoulders with the Tier-1 Shari’a scholars in the Islamic financial services industry.
Islamic Banking R&D Award 2015
Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking & Finance, HBMSU – UAE
The Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking & Finance (DCIBF) at Hamdan Bin Mohamed Smart University (HBMSU) Dubai was chosen for this prestigious award for its pioneering research on Islamic banking efficiency, which was used as a basis for the selections of the Strongest Islamic Retail Banks. DCIBF is a joint initiative of HBMSU and Dubai the Capital of Islamic Economy. It supports the development of human capital in the areas of Islamic finance, and conducts both academic and applied research in this area. DCIBF has been publishing an Islamic Banking, Growth, Efficiency and Stability Report since 2014.
The 2015 edition of the report contained a detailed efficiency analysis that attempted to rank all retail banks of the world. This was acknowledged by the Islamic Banking R&D Award 2015 other similar research initiatives of DCIBF.
STRONGEST ISLAMIC RETAIL BANKS
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in the GCC 2015
Dubai Islamic Bank – UAE
Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) is the oldest Islamic retail bank in the world. In recent years, under the dynamic leadership of Dr Adnan Chilwan, DIB has further cemented its position as the premier Islamic bank in the world. Out of the 132 Islamic retail banks ranked in terms of efficiency, DIB was chosen as the Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in the GCC. The efficiency score attained by DIB in 2015 was 0.5930, which was the 5th largest score in the sample used in the efficiency study.
DIB is a public joint stock company, with its shares listed on the Dubai Financial Market. The bank enjoys a reputation as a leader and innovator in maintaining the quality, flexibility and accessibility of its products and services. It currently operates 90 branches in the UAE. DIB is also considered as a flag-bearer of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision of making Dubai a global hub for Islamic economy. What makes DIB the Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in the GCC is in fact the strong support received from the government of Dubai. “There is no doubt, however, that management of the bank has shown excellence in operating the bank on efficient basis,” said Professor Humayon Dar, Chairman of IRBA.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in the Asia Pacific 2015
Bank Kerjasama Rakyat – Malaysia
Bank Kerjasama Rakyat or Bank Rakyat for short was announced as the Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in the Asia Pacific region for its excellent performance. It stood ahead of many better-known Islamic banking brands in the region – attaining an efficiency score of 0.5280, and ranking 7th position worldwide. Bank Rakyat’s emphasis on quality and prudent asset management has contributed to operational efficiency and its overall success in Malaysia where it stands as the largest Islamic cooperative bank and the second largest Islamic bank.
For the last four consecutive years, Bank Rakyat exceeded the RM2 billion mark in profit before taxes and zakat, despite a
very challenging business and economic environment. Among the bank’s key initiatives has been a comprehensive and detailed three-phase transformation programme to ensure continued success and sustainability and to enhance its competitiveness.
“I feel extremely honoured, grateful and privileged to be recognised as the Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Asia Pacific in Islamic Retail Banking Awards 2015,” said Datuk Mustafha Hj Abd Razak, Managing Director/President of Bank Rakyat. He attributed the success of the bank to his management team for their hard work and support in making Bank Rakyat a truly success story.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Bahrain 2015
Bahrain Islamic Bank
Bahrain Islamic Bank is the oldest Islamic bank in the country. Although Islamic banking in Bahrain has become very competitive and overcrowded, Bahrain Islamic Bank has come a long way since its inception in 1979. The bank has been maintaining its leading position in the Islamic banking sector through adopting innovative Islamic investment and financing products, supported by superior retail and corporate banking services. It is listed on the Bahrain Stock Exchange. Its major shareholders are leading local and regional financial institutions.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Kenya 2015
Gulf African Bank
Set up in 2008, Gulf African Bank has gone from strength to strength, leveraging its position as Kenya’s largest Islamic bank.
Gulf African Bank follows the principles of universal banking and offers a wide range of Islamic financial products. The bank offers products and services that address needs of not just Muslims, but all economic players in the country including individuals, corporate companies, and other institutions. Consequently, the bank has rapidly grown a portfolio of valuable clients who have in turn helped the bank grow and prosper. This is evident by the bank’s strong results, which reflect growth in market share of deposits, financing and continued recognition of the bank as a market leader.
“This recognition of Gulf African Bank by Islamic Retail Banking Awards as the Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Kenya is a clear indication of the bank’s strength and success in retail banking,” said Abdulla Abdulkhalik, Managing Director of Gulf African Bank.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Malaysia 2015
Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad
Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad or commonly known as Bank Islam is the first full-fledged Islamic bank in Malaysia and indeed in the whole region of South East Asia. Through its pioneering role, Bank Islam has played a significant role in the development of Islamic banking and finance worldwide. It has provided technical assistance in the setting up of several Islamic financial institutions in the Asian region such as Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Dato’ Sri Zukri Samat, Managing Director and CEO of the bank stated at the Awards Ceremony, “Bank Islam has chartered through unfamiliar territories and played a catalytic role in the rapid growth and acceptance of Islamic banking both in the country and the region, and this international recognition is a testament to the bank’s aptitude.”
With over 70 innovative and sophisticated Islamic banking products and services, Bank Islam offers a comprehensive range of services to its more than 5 million customers. Primarily a retail bank with consumer banking constituting more than 70% of total financing, The bank also offer a wide range of other products to cater for government-linked entities, corporates and not-for-profit organisations. Bank Islam’s efficiency score in the aforementioned study was 0.4570.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Oman 2015
Being the first full-fledged Islamic bank in Oman, Bank Nizwa has evolved itself into a leading provider of Islamic financial services in the country. This is a remarkable achievement for a new bank. Nizwa Bank has indeed put the Sultanate of Oman on the global map of Islamic banking and finance, as it is fast emerging as one of the most recognised brands in Islamic banking and finance.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Pakistan 2015
Bank Alfalah Islamic
Bank Alfalah has been running a very strong Islamic banking business, competing with the full-fledged Islamic banks in the country. It is a premier Islamic banking franchise led by Rizwan Ata, Head of Islamic Banking. Given the excellent performance of this Islamic banking window in Pakistan, one should expect it to successfully spin off as a full-fledged Islamic bank in Pakistan.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Saudi Arabia 2015
Unlike other Islamic banks in the Kingdom, Bank Albilad has fast emerged as a leader in the domestic Islamic retail bank, despite being a relatively new player. With a paid-up capital of SAR5 billion and top management positions manned by one of the best human resources available in the industry, Bank Al Bilad continues to increase its profitability since 2010. Its last annual profits announced stood at SAR850 million.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in South Africa 2015
FNB Islamic Banking
FNB Islamic Banking is another Islamic banking window, which has the distinction of receiving the Strongest Islamic Retail Bank award, the other being Bank Alfalah Islamic Banking from Pakistan. The phenomenal success of the bank can be attributed to the visionary leadership of its CEO Amman Mohammed who has helped the Group in extending its reach to across Africa.
Strongest Islamic Retail Bank in Sudan 2015
Al Salam Bank
Al Salam Bank Sudan draws its strength from its shareholders in the GCC. Since May 25, 2005, when the bank started its operations in Sudan, it has witnessed steady growth in its operations and profits. Al Salam Bank Sudan, which opened its first office in Khartoum, is part of the Al Salam group of banks, a financial institution that has its hub in Bahrain and also operates in Algeria.
CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS
Best Islamic Retail Banking Solution Provider 2015
International Turnkey Systems (ITS) – Kuwait
ITS is without an iota of doubt the best and most dedicated player in Islamic financial technology. With clients located all over the world, ITS offers its core Islamic banking system to Islamic banks and conventional banks in all markets where Islamic banking is being practised.
Best Islamic Retail Bank in Jordan 2015
Jordan Islamic Bank – Jordan
Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB) is the oldest Islamic bank in the country, and has received global recognition as a pioneering player in the global ITS is without an iota of doubt the best and most dedicated player in Islamic financial technology. With clients located all over the world, ITS offers its core Islamic banking system to Islamic banks and conventional banks in all markets where Islamic banking is being practised.
Best Islamic Retail Bank in Jordan 2015
Jordan Islamic Bank – Jordan
Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB) is the oldest Islamic bank in the country, and has received global recognition as a pioneering player in the global Islamic financial services industry. Set up in 1978, with its first branch opened in 1979, JIB finds itself in the cohort of first-generation of Islamic banks. Apart from excellence in management and prudence in operations, JIB also draws its strength from its major shareholder – Dalla Albaraka Group. The bank is led by Musa Shihadeh, CEO and General Manager, who attributed the bank’s success to its financial strength, safety and quality of its credit portfolio, and the management’s commitment to providing advanced products and services that meet needs of individual and institutional clients.
“On behalf of Jordan Islamic Bank, we are pleased to receive the Critics’ Choice Best Islamic Retail Bank in Jordan 2015,” said Musa Shihadeh after receiving the award.
“It is a timely recognition from Cambridge IF Analytica, and I am proud to confirm that JIB maintains a distinctive place among all the banks in Jordan. In accordance with our strategic plan we achieved growth in every field the bank focuses on.”
Best Islamic Retail Bank in Sudan 2015
Bank of Khartoum
Bank of Khartoum was chosen as the Best Islamic Retail Bank in Sudan due to several key factors. It is the largest Islamic retail bank in the country but the Critics’ Choice Committee choose the bank not only because of its stature in the country but also the potential role it can play in the global Islamic financial services industry. Bank of Khartoum draws its strength from its shareholders with more than 80% originated from the GCC and include the likes of Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Sharjah Islamic Bank, and Islamic Development Bank, among others.
Bank of Khartoum has the potential to become the leading Islamic bank in the African continent, which is home to the highest percentage of global Muslim population. Given this potential and the most innovative approach in product development and other services offered, Bank of Khartoum was rightly chosen as the Best Islamic Retail Bank in Sudan for the year 2015.
“All of us at Bank of Khartoum are delighted to be honoured by the Critics’ Choice Committee as the Best Islamic Retail Bank in Sudan,” said a buoyant Kashif Mohammed Naeem, EVP and Group Head of Retail and Microfinance. “Retail Banking remains the core focus of our bank and we will continue to expand our branch and ATM network. We are also committed to enhance our current e-banking offerings and to introduce more innovative products and services to offer even better solutions to our customers in 2016.”
Other important award winners in the Critics’ Choice category are listed in the table.
Next year’s IRBA Ceremony is expected to take place in Dubai. The nominations will start in August 2016 and will be announced through a global press release.