KARACHI FINANCIAL TOWERS

An architectural landmark in Pakistan

NASIR MAHMOOD
Apr 30 - May 13, 2007

Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal Al Qassimi, Chairman Emirates Global Islamic Bank Ltd, while giving the background for developing Karachi Financial Towers at a cost of $700 million, said in an interview that in late 2003 he had visited Pakistan. During his stay he held meetings with President General Musharraf and the then Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz.

"At that time we were exploring business opportunities in Pakistan and those meetings gave us a lot of encouragement for investment in this part of the world. Encouraged by economic growth and friendly environment offered by the government here we started negotiating with the government on different aspects and business facilities. Recently 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.

BUSINESS HUB

"Since Karachi is a business hub and financial center of Pakistan on the back of its vital role in GDP growth, it gave us a good reason to start our development projects from this city. We simultaneously launched two mega projects in this city one is the "Karachi Financial Towers" while other is the "Emirates Global Islamic Bank Ltd (EGIBL)."

Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal Al Qassimi is a member of the ruling family of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) and Chairman Emirates Global Islamic Bank Ltd (EGIBL).

The total investment of both projects is estimated at US $ 700 million, he added. Sheikh Tariq is an active investor who adopts a growth-oriented investment strategy. 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 bank is sponsored by the Emirates Investment Group of UAE and Al Rajhi family of Saudi Arabia, he added.

Sheikh Tariq's involvement with the development of Sharjah began in 1999 with his appointment as Chairman of 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 appointed as Chairman for the Secretary General of Awqaf General Trust and Sharjah Sports Club and Vice Chairman for Sharjah Charity International.

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 a question, he said: "Today we have launched Emirates Global Islamic Bank Ltd (EGIBL) for which I have come here to participate in launching ceremony. This 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 with a total cost of $ 600 million, he said. "In this regard our local partner is National Logistic Cell and we have a ratio of 51% and 49%, respectively, in Karachi Financial Towers. The reason behind starting this project was that Karachi is a financial hub in this region and it requires world class development in that area of Chundrigar Road where a large number of local and international banks are located. Pakistan has a very successful growth in GDP for the 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 bookings in Karachi Financial Towers which is almost fully booked," he added.

"We really need to build here 'A' class buildings and provide best possible facilities. There are lots of people in UAE who are interested to invest in Pakistan. We are happy to invest here and other people are looking and waiting for our success in this region. We are also planning to start some residential building projects here.

"In my opinion Gwadar is a very promising project in Pakistan. We are thinking to explore some opportunities there but at the moment I can't identify exactly. I am frequently visiting Pakistan and my team is already working here," Chairman Emirates Global Islamic Bank Ltd concluded.