International Finance

Sharjah Islamic Bank plays a prominent role in Islamic banking

Sharjah Islamic Finance_IF_Image
The bank’s efforts in combining modern innovation and traditional values have enabled it to become a leader in the UAE’s financial landscape

Established in 1976, Sharjah Islamic Bank has excelled in introducing innovative information technology programmes in line with the Islamic finance principles. Interestingly, the bank was the first establishment in the world to have transformed itself from a conventional bank into an entity that works under the Islamic finance principles. It launched the Sukuk al-Musharaka which was the first Sukuk classified by an Islamic bank in the Arab Gulf region. 

Sharjah Islamic Bank continues to play an active role in Islamic banking which has emerged as an alternative to interest-based banks globally. This aspect of the banking system has continued to grow exponentially in the UAE over the last two decades. The bank’s efforts in combining modern innovation and traditional values have enabled it to become one of the top leaders in the financial landscape. 

The widespread availability of products and services have been continuously developed and evolved by bankers over the years. The bank relates to this ideology that availability of such products will now enable investors or borrowers to seamlessly access banking services which were previously non-accessible to them on the back of their religious belief system. Dubai Centre has published data which shows that the emirate has made the largest contribution to the GDP in terms of Islamic banking, with industry analysts predicting that the Islamic finance sector will expand from $2.4 trillion last year to $3.8 trillion by 2023, pointing to a 58 per cent increase in growth. By numbers, the sector has reached up to 8.5 percent in the UAE’s total GDP last year, with Sharjah Islamic Bank seeking to establish new ways to innovate Islamic finance products and further enhance customer satisfaction. 

The bank remains focused on customer satisfaction

Customers remain a core focus for the bank allowing it to go from strength to strength. An example of this is the recent launch of the zero-profit finance scheme for education, Hajj and Umrah. In addition, Sharjah Islamic Bank became the first to introduce ATM services for the blind in the UAE ensuring that all clients have access to their finances. 

In light of the current circumstances, the bank has introduced many new measures to keep customers safe when they visit a branch to conduct financial transactions. The bank continues to encourage customers to make use of the new range of digital banking solutions that enable them to complete digital finance transactions, safely from the comfort of their homes.  Digital services include instant local and international transfers, bill payments, card payments, certificate requests, cheque book requests and instalment postponement.

To support customers through the pandemic, the bank is now permitting those who have been directly impacted by Covid-19 to postpone their finance instalments for a period up to three months. Non-impacted customers can also postpone their instalments twice a year.

The bank has taken a range of other initiatives including:

  • Reduce the minimum balance of the company account to Dh10,000
  • Increase the ATM cash withdrawal limit to between Dh15,000 and Dh25,000 for priority customers
  • Zero percent easy payment plan for transactions above Dh500 on Smile Card extended to a six-month period when paying for school fees and groceries
  • Up to 80 percent cash withdrawal of a Smile Card limit with zero percent profit for up to a six-month period 
  • Zero percent profit rate for a six-month period and easy instalments when transferring outstanding balances of other banks credit cards to a Smile Card
  • No fees on postponement of one month instalment in real estate finance for salaried and self-employed customers whose contracts are within monthly repayments
  • Reduce the down payment by 5 percent in real estate finance across all nationalities for first-time home buyers  

The bank is committed to excellence in the global banking industry

Recently, the bank won awards for the Best Islamic Bank and the Most Innovative Digital Bank at the 8th International Finance Award. The two awards are among several others that the bank has received in its previous years and it demonstrates its commitment to excelling in the global banking industry. Despite the challenges introduced by the protracted pandemic, the awards are a testament to the bank’s dedicated services to customers and employees. 

His Excellency Mohamed Abdalla, CEO of Sharjah Islamic Bank, said, “The awards serve as a checklist that we are on the right path, and we are within the elite in our industry. Over the years, the bank has succeeded in providing distinguished services to individuals and corporate clients, whilst introducing innovative concepts that have also significantly helped improve the quality of work. We take pride in offering our clients modern Sharia-compliant services that are in line with international standards.” Recognised by a reputed entity like International Finance is a testament to the strategic measures adopted by the bank in recent years. 

Sharjah Islamic Bank is striving to provide all electronic services and facilities designed to the requirements of the retail and corporate consumer base during that period. The bank seeks to extend its support to the UAE under the slogan ‘we commit until we succeed’. This aligns with the UAE Vision 2021 which is aimed at building a creative, high standard and competitive knowledge-based economy.

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