MUSCAT: Meethaq, the pioneer of Islamic banking in Oman from Bank Muscat, highlighted its successful 5-year journey contributing to the country’s progress and development at a special media event. Sulaiman al Harthy, Deputy Chief Executive Officer — Islamic Banking, led the senior Meethaq officials present on the occasion at the country’s unique and first-of-its-kind solar-powered branch in Al Khoud.
Bank Muscat was the first commercial bank in Oman to receive CBO approval and begin independent Islamic banking window operations in 2013. Within five years of operations, Meethaq has consolidated its leadership position with over RO 1 billion in assets accounting for 33 per cent market share.
Sulaiman al Harthy said: “In a short span of five years, Meethaq is proud to record notable achievements supporting the country’s economic development and progress of the people. In the context of economic diversification, the launch of Islamic banking operations has contributed to sustainable development in Oman. Meethaq is positioned to address the requirements of all segments, ensuring innovative banking service benefiting communities across the Sultanate. Meethaq remains committed to creating in-country value vis-à-vis participation in the socio-economic development of Oman.”
The Meethaq operations are managed by an experienced team, separate from conventional banking. The bank has invested in staff, systems and controls to ensure the service is delivered in a professional, segregated and fully Sharia compliant manner. Meethaq has succeeded in equipping a niche segment of human resources to handle Islamic banking operations.
The development of human resources is a priority in the bank which provides relevant educational and training opportunities to employees. The training and development programmes are carried out through specialised courses conducted by accredited training centres or through academic links with colleges, universities and leading training institutes at the regional and global levels. The bank earmarks substantial allocation for training and development of human resources in all functions and responsibilities assigned to them.
Support to development of economy: In a relatively short period of five years since its inception in 2013, Meethaq has succeeded in emerging as the leading Islamic banking services provider in Oman, owing to the trust and confidence reposed by the people of Oman.
Al Harthy said: “The banking sector in Oman is witnessing the consolidation of Islamic banking and Meethaq is focused on redefining Islamic banking operations in Oman. Meethaq recognises the immense investment prospects and potential that Oman offers and is committed to supporting the strategic national initiative aimed at attracting investments in line with Oman’s Vision 2040 economic blueprint.”
Meethaq has many achievements contributing to the growth and development of the Sultanate’s economy. Meethaq extends support to all key economic sectors. The notable finance facilities offered by Meethaq include the refinancing of RO 78 million signed with Oman Shipping Company for its three very large crude carriers (VLCCs). Meethaq took another major stride as Oman’s first and only Sharia based aircraft financier to the national carrier Oman Air for acquiring its second Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Aimed at enhancing in-country value and sustainable development, Meethaq extended project finance for Sebacic Oman setting up the world’s largest plant for sebacic acid. Supporting food security of the country under Tanfeedh initiatives (National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification), Meethaq extended RO 50 million project finance to A’ Namaa Poultry setting up the biggest poultry project in Oman.
Meethaq and Hydrocarbon Finder E&P LLC (HCF) signed an Islamic project financing facility for the development of oil and gas fields in Block 7 of Oman operated by HCF.
Meethaq and Muscat National Development and Investment Company (ASAAS) signed term finance agreements with a total value of RO 16 million for an upscale 3 star hotel in Muscat and a crew reporting terminal at the airport.
Committed to the objective of a home for every family, Meethaq extended a total of RO 475 million home finance till the end of July 2018.
First Sukuk for retail investors: Meethaq is the first Islamic banking entity to obtain CMA approval for a Sukuk issuance targeting retail investors in Oman. The Meethaq Sukuk programme evoked overwhelming response to its maiden RO 25 million issuance, which was oversubscribed and increased to RO 44.6 million.
Innovative products and services: Aimed at promoting a healthy savings habit in Oman, Meethaq launched a unique savings prize scheme offering the largest number of prizes in the Islamic banking segment. The Sharia compliant Hibati Prize Savings Account offers over RO 1 million to be won in attractive weekly, monthly and annual prizes. Keeping in view the market feedback that customers prefer more prizes at shorter frequency, Hibati savings scheme has lined up the largest number of 5,340 prizes to reward customers.
Offering attractive investment opportunities, Meethaq joined hands with Azimut to launch the first global sukuk fund in Oman. The Luxembourg domiciled Azimut Global Sukuk Fund (GSF) is one of the world’s largest funds investing in sukuk with assets under management (AUM) of $190 million and a track record of more than 4 years and an income distribution yield of 5 per cent (as of 2017). GSF is currently distributed in Europe, Asia and Middle East with strategic partnerships with some of the largest financial institutions locally.
Meethaq ‘Accelerate Oman SME’ portal developed in partnership with Thomson Reuters serves as a gateway for SMEs in the Sultanate. The portal provides startups and SMEs access to the most comprehensive source of business resources, services and funding solutions.
Meethaq Islamic Banking has launched various initiatives to support SME development in Oman. Meethaq’s commitment to fostering national talent and providing support for SMEs is aimed at creating meaningful employment opportunities.
Majlis Meethaq is a unique initiative to promote public-private partnership in which successful role models are presented to highlight their achievements to motivate and inspire citizens, especially youth, to attain success in life.
Shua’a Meethaq is another initiative to highlight that Meethaq contributions are not limited to products and services. The objective of Shua’a Meethaq is achieved through seminars, workshops and events addressed by experts which highlight the role of Islamic banking in the Sultanate’s economic development.
Benchmark CSR programmes: In step with its commitment to sustainable development, Meethaq has defined benchmarks in conservation of energy and financial literacy programmes as part of the bank’s Imprints CSR initiative. At a time when the role of Islamic finance is increasingly seen in supporting economic and social development, Meethaq remains committed to social responsibility initiatives contributing to sustainable development in Oman.
The Imprints programme on energy conservation focuses on green energy initiatives starting with a pilot Meethaq branch using solar energy. Aimed at promoting renewable sources of energy in the Sultanate, the Al Khoud branch is the first bank branch in the Sultanate to fully operate on green renewable energy.
Meethaq, in association with the Ministry of Education and Injaz Oman, launched the ‘Little Investor’ programme in which over 10,500 school students across the Sultanate have been trained in the basics of financial literacy.
In recognition of outstanding achievements in Islamic banking, Meethaq has won prestigious local, regional and global awards by Global Finance, Global Islamic Finance, Islamic Business & Finance, and Islamic Finance News (IFN). The success of Meethaq stems from its commitment to offer world-class Islamic banking service to customers.
Meethaq has adopted the best practices in Islamic banking and finance worldwide to combine a robust model which protects customers and complements the Islamic banking industry.
Meethaq maintains leadership position in the Islamic banking industry in Oman in terms of financing receivables, branch network, products and services, IT infrastructure and human resources.
Sulaiman al Harthy added: “Meethaq is immensely grateful to the regulatory authorities — the Central Bank of Oman and the Capital Market Authority for their support and guidance during the past five years. Going forward, Meethaq is committed to exceeding the expectations in innovative Islamic banking products and services, working together for the success of the nation and the people.”