Annual Awards honoring the Best Islamic Financial Institutions in the world.

Author: Anita Hawser

Table Of Contents

Kazakhstan | Al Hilal Islamic Bank

Currently the only Islamic bank in Kazakhstan, Al Hilal may soon be joined by other providers if a new Islamic banking law designed to support the sector has the desired effect. Islamic finance was permitted in the country in 2009 but has failed to develop in any significant way. The Islamic Development Bank is in the process of redrafting Islamic banking law to clarify the structure and range of Islamic financial instruments and provide greater transparency in the tax regime for Islamic banks.

Kenya | Gulf African Bank

Islamic banking appears to be thriving in Kenya, where Gulf African Bank was the first dedicated Islamic provider but many commercial banks provide Islamic windows. The International Finance Corporation made a $5 million equity investment in Gulf African Bank to support lending to SMEs in East Africa. Another institution, Standard Chartered, recently announced plans to roll out Islamic banking services in the country.

Kuwait | Boubyan Bank

With the help of its major shareholder, National Bank of Kuwait, Boubyan Bank has successfully completed a major economic transformation in which it boosted its capital base and installed a new executive management team. The bank reported record profits in the first quarter of 2015 of 7.4 million Kuwaiti dinars ($24 million), up 30% from the year before. Boubyan's asset management and brokerage division has been growing steadily, and it continues to participate in landmark structured finance and sukuk transactions.

Lebanon | BLOM Development Bank

A previous winner in this category, BLOM Development Bank offers a wide range of retail and corporate banking services in accordance with shariah law. Its corporate banking division offers Islamic financial services for large clients as well as SMEs and covers all goods and merchandise financing from local and international providers.

Malaysia | Maybank Islamic

In 2014, Maybank’s total assets made up 30% of the Malaysian banking industry, with financing and deposits contributing 33% and 25%, respectively. The bank boasts more than 400 branches in Malaysia, and its investment banking division is a leading underwriter of ringgit-denominated sukuk.

Mauritania | Banque Al Wava Mauritanienne Islamique

In 2012, Mauritania's central bank introduced new laws for Islamic banks in an effort to extend banking services to underserved segments of the population. To assist with human capital development in Islamic banking, Banque Al wava hosted an Islamic finance training event for local banks last December. The event was organized by the Bahrain-based General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions and the Islamic Development Bank.

Morocco | Attijariwafa Bank

Attijariwafa, Morocco’s largest private bank, was the first to create an Islamic subsidiary, Dar Assafaa, after legislation permitting the establishment of Islamic banks and financial products came into effect in January. Attijariwafa has since announced that Dar Assafaa will be transformed into a full participatory, or Islamic, bank.

Nigeria | Jaiz Bank

As the only Islamic bank in Nigeria, Jaiz Bank is at the forefront of promoting interest-free banking services in Africa's largest economy. The Islamic Development Bank is a major shareholder in the bank, which also has a close relationship with Islami Bank Bangladesh. The bank has 10 branches and plans to expand its operations by increasing its share capital base from $39 million to $78 million. 

Oman | BankMuscat Meethaq

As the first Islamic window in Oman, BankMuscat Meethaq has a well-developed suite of banking solutions for retail and corporate customers and an 11-branch network, which it plans to expand in the near future. The bank emphasizes its efforts to ensure the separation of funds in its Islamic and conventional banking operations and its adherence to international Islamic banking standards.

Pakistan | Meezan Bank

Meezan Bank, the first and largest Islamic bank in Pakistan, recently acquired the banking business of HSBC Pakistan, which it plans to convert to an Islamic bank. In October the business and branches of HSBC Pakistan were transferred to Meezan, a move that will help it consolidate its already dominant position.

Palestine | Palestine Islamic Bank

PIB commenced operations in 1997 and has paid-in capital of $48 million. It has expanded its domestic network largely through acquisitions. Profitability has continued to improve. Pretax income rose 22% in 2013—the latest annual results available—to $9 million, while assets grew 19% to reach $502 million.

Qatar | Barwa Bank

Qatar's newest and fastest-growing Islamic bank is making its presence felt in the market, participating in landmark Islamic finance transactions, including our choice for Islamic finance deal of the year, the International Finance Facility for Immunisation's $500 million sukuk. The bank's 2014 third quarter—the most recent period it reported—saw net profit increase by 43%, to 641 million Qatari riyal ($176 million), compared with the same period a year earlier.

Saudi Arabia | NCB

Describing itself as the largest bank by assets in the Arab world and one of the pioneers in Islamic banking in the kingdom, NCB achieved record net income of 7.8 billion Saudi riyal ($2.1 million) in 2013. Total assets increased 9%, to 377.3 billion riyal.

Senegal | Banque Islamique du Senegal

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank, is a majority shareholder in Banque Islamique du Senegal, which in recent years has improved its profitability and diversified its customer portfolio with a particular focus on the retail banking sector. 

Singapore | Maybank Singapore Islamic Banking

In 2014 the Singapore operations of Asean's largest Islamic bank by assets rolled out new, shariah-compliant financing solutions for the retail and SME market segments in Singapore. It also launched Islamic trade facilities and foreign currency deposits.

South Africa | FNB Islamic

FNB Islamic is the Islamic banking operation of one of South Africa's oldest banks, FirstRand Bank. FNB Islamic provides a range of shariah-compliant banking services, including deposit accounts, asset finance and wealth management.

Sri Lanka | Amãna Bank

Since launching in 2011, Sri Lanka's first Islamic bank has expanded its reach to 14 branches across the country. In 2014, customer deposits increased by more than 60% to 29.2 billion Sri Lankan rupee ($219 million). The bank is supported by strategic shareholders, including the Islamic Development Bank, Bank Islam Malaysia and AB Bank in Bangladesh.

Syria | Al Baraka Syria

Three of Syria's 14 private banks are Islamic banks. Other Islamic banks have a longer history in Syria, but Albaraka Syria has a more than 9% share of the market, based on assets. Despite ongoing political, economic and social unrest in the country, Albaraka Syria recorded 2014 profits of $12.9 million.

Turkey | Kuveyt Türk

Kuwait Finance House is a majority shareholder in Kuveyt Türk. Despite increased competition in the participation-banking sector in Turkey, Kuveyt Türk has a well-established reputation in the market and saw net profits increase by 23% in 2014.

Thailand | Islamic Bank of Thailand

Last December, Fitch Ratings reported that additional capital injections were planned for Islamic Bank of Thailand, which is a key policy bank in Thailand because of its ownership by the state. Recently the bank has focused on reducing problem loans and improving its capital adequacy ratio (a measure of capital expressed as a percentage of a bank’s risk-weighted credit exposure).

UAE | Al Hilal Bank

It started up operations in the difficult days of the 2008 global financial crisis, yet over a short period of time Al Hilal Bank has shored up profitability and established a reputation as being an innovative fund provider. The bank's sole shareholder is the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government.

United Kingdom | Al Rayan Bank

Formerly known as Islamic Bank of Britain, Al Rayan Bank is the only shariah-compliant retail bank in the UK. In May this year the bank announced its first profit since it was established in 2004. In 2014, operating income surged 168%, to £11.8 million ($18 million).

United States | American Finance House Lariba

American Finance House has provided interest-free banking services in the US since 1987, when it was founded by pioneering Islamic scholar Dr. Yahia Abdul Rahman. Its Islamic financial services are geared toward businesses and consumers.

Yemen  | Tadhamon International Islamic Bank

Despite a difficult operating environment, Tadhamon managed to grow revenues by 34% in 2013. The bank has managed to withstand challenging market conditions thanks to its strong solvency and a high level of capital adequacy at 14.7% (a capital adequacy ratio is expressed as a percentage of a bank’s risk-weighted credit exposure).

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