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At the end of the first quarter of 2008, Islamic banks comprised 13.4% of UAE’s banking assets, according to Kuwait’s Global Investment bank. The sector is on the move with strong growth, rising share of the total banking market, new products and strong deposits. According to this report, the sector is introducing innovative products to account for new market needs. Among these products are Ijarah and Murabaha.

Many banks in the Middle East already have an Islamic banking unit or even converting existing non-Islamic subsidiaries into Islamic ones. The report goes on to mention that compound annual growth rate of deposits at Islamic banks has risen 44% over the past 5 years.

A previous report by SIS International indicates that Islamic Banking has attracted a key market of banking clients, high net-worth individuals (HNWI’s), particularly in the Gulf. While Bahrain is traditionally known as a hub for Islamic banking, banks in the UAE and Qatar are making in-roads into the market by creating Islamic Financial Services subsidiaries.

Recently, a Singaporean Islamic Bank is expanding in the Gulf. Non-gulf Islamic Banks like DBS based out of Singapore have their eye on expansion in the Middle East. The Islamic Bank of Asia, a subsidiary of DBS, expanded in Bahrain in the past year. The bank is further considering expansion into UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

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