Interview: Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal Al Qassimi,Chairman Emirates Global Islamic Bank

Mar 12 - 18, 2007

The development of "Karachi Financial Towers" each having 37 floors actually seems to be the advent of business revolution and an architectural feat, which will transform into the first financial district in Pakistan.

Sheikh Tariq Bin Faisal Al Qassimi, a member of the ruling family of Sharjah and the Chairman of newly launched Emirates Global Islamic Bank (EGIB) was talking to Pakistan & Gulf Economist (PAGE) at the launch of the bank in Karachi.

Actually, the launch of Emirates Global Islamic Bank from Pakistan substantiates the notion that this country is the right place for doing business and also has the market appetite of financing in Islamic way. The forthcoming financial towers, the tallest in Pakistan - would be housing the Head Office of the EGIB.


Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited, a dedicated Islamic commercial bank, commenced operations in February 2007 with six branches.

Incorporated in Pakistan and sponsored by leading investors from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited aims to become a major player in the rapidly growing Islamic banking industry by offering Riba-free yet highly competitive banking products, based on the teachings of the Qura'an and Sunnah.

Shaikh Qassimi said: "We firmly believe in making a positive contribution to society by continuously striving to provide Halal alternatives to conventional banking products, complemented with superior service and cutting-edge technology".

Islamic banking is emerging as a major trend on the global financial scene and the quantum of this industry presently stands at over US$ 300 billion. It has become one of the fastest growing industries not only in the world but also in the region. In Pakistan, Islamic banking is expected to grow rapidly to achieve a 12% share of the banking industry by 2012.

The reason behind this phenomenal growth is the fact that Islamic banking is based on ethical practices and promotes honesty, transparency and fairness. It has far reaching benefits, which can be enjoyed by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited is committed to the cause of extending the reach of Islamic banking in Pakistan and thereafter globally.

Emirates Global Islamic Bank is backed by leading investors from United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who are committed to the cause of Islamic banking.

The sponsoring shareholder of the bank, Emirates Investments Group (EIG), headquartered in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, is a leading investment company, which has strategic investments in the property development and financial services sectors in the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.

Shiekh Tariq Bin Faisal Al Qassimi, a member of the ruling family of Sharjah, is the Chairman and co-founder of Emirates Investments Group.

EIG has set up ENSHAANLC, a high quality property development company which is a joint venture with National Logistics Cell (NLC) for the development of Karachi Financial Towers, a state-of-the-art commercial complex on I. I. Chundrigar Road. Other major investments of the group in Pakistan include Trust Securities and Brokerage Limited (TSBL), which is a brokerage firm based in Lahore.

The other major shareholder of Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited is Al Rajhi family of Saudi Arabia. This group is also a major shareholder in the Al Rajhi Bank of Saudi Arabia, which is the largest Islamic bank in the world with assets over SAR 100 billion.

Karachi, being the industrial, business and financial hub of the country has been chosen for developing the tallest financial towers and that would be followed for five another such projects at I.I. Chundrigar Road to turn the idea of developing a financial district into a reality. At a total investment estimated at $ 700 million,

Sheikh Tariq, an active investor, who adopts a growth oriented investment strategy foresees a turnaround in the financial and property development in Pakistan and that is the reason the group has chosen these two areas for investment in Pakistan. The group is also looking into the possibilities of developing similar projects in other major cities of Pakistan especially Lahore and Islamabad, Sheikh Qassimi disclosed. His business interests include investments, real estate, property development, trading, construction, insurance, finance, transportation, contracting, services and hospitality.

He said that EGIBL is a dedicated Islamic commercial bank launched in Pakistan. It has been started with an initial capital of $ 50 million, which would be enhanced up to $ 100 million at the end of this year.

"We are starting its operation with six branches spread across Karachi and Lahore but at the end of the year the number of branches would reach up to 25 in all major cities of Pakistan," he said. The Emirates Investment Group of UAE and Al Rajhi family of Saudi Arabia sponsor the bank, he added.

Sheikh Tariq's involvement with the development of Sharjah began in 1999 with his appointment as Chairman for the General Authority of Sharjah Free Zones (Hamriyah and Sharjah Airport International Free zone). This involvement continued to expand in 2000 when he was appointed as Chairman of two major government authorities in the Emirate of Sharjah, the Economic Development Department and the Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Authority.

In 2002, he was further appointed as Chairman for the Secretary General of Awqaf General Trust and Sharjah Sports Club, and Vice Chairman for Sharjah Charity International.

Replying to various questions, he said: "In late 2003 I had come to Pakistan and held meetings with President General Musharraf and Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz. At that time we were exploring the business opportunities in Pakistan and that meeting gave us a lot of encouragement for making investment in Pakistan and we started negotiating with the government on different aspects and business facilities. Now two weeks before we have launched our first development project in Pakistan which is "Karachi Financial Towers" in the name of Insha-NLC- a joint venture with NLC in Pakistan while Insha is our subsidiary company."


The goal of our Shariah Advisory Board is to ensure that EGIBís operations strictly adhere to Islamic tenets.

The main activities of our Shariah Board are:

Review EGIBís transactions and activities in order to prepare appropriate policies

Monitor the implementation of policies in all internal and external activities of EGIB

Analysis and approval by way of a Fatwa for contracts and products in light of Shariah

Advise EGIB on day to day operations

Sheikh Tariq received his Master's Degree in International Finance from Westminster University, UK. He graduated from the Higher Colleges of technology - UAE, with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. He obtained an Executive Management Certificate from Harvard University, received additional training and certification from the London Business School, Stanford University and the University of Cambridge.

To another question, he said: "Emirates Global Islamic Bank Ltd (EGIBL) is our second investment project in Pakistan. Since Pakistan is one of the largest Islamic nations in the world and here we find a good volume of banking talent and the professional experts, therefore, we expect a rapid growth in Islamic banking here."

The Financial Tower project would be completed in 30 months for which the construction has already been started by a construction company from UAE at I I Chundrigar Road. This is going to be completed at a total cost of $ 600 million. "In this regard our local partner is National Logistic Cell and we have a ratio of 51% and 49%, respectively in the Karachi Financial Towers project. The reason behind starting this project was that Karachi is a financial hub in this region and it requires world-class development in the area of Chundrigar Road that is housing a large number of local and international banks. Pakistan has a very successful growth in GDP from last many years hence we are trying to attract international business here. We have received a very good response from within and outside Pakistan for the Karachi Financial Towers project, as it almost stands fully booked," he said.


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