Potential to develop RO 1bn Waqf assets

Islamic banking institutions can play a role in the development of potentially RO 1 billion worth of Waqf assets (charitable endowments under Islamic law) distributed around the Sultanate, according to well-known banking executive.
Sulaiman al Harthy (pictured), Deputy CEO — Meethaq Islamic Banking, said Waqf, among other instruments and markets, have the potential to drive the growth of Islamic banking and finance in the Sultanate.
Participating in a panel discussion at the IFN Oman Forum, held at the Grand Millennium Muscat yesterday, Al Harthy noted that Islamic Banking can do a lot more to contribute to the nation’s economic development.
According to the executive, virtually every village and town in the Sultanate is home to at least “one or two” Waqf properties — be they buildings, plots of land or other assets. These assets, worth at least one billion Omani riyals, have the potential to be developed via Islamic Banking channels, he said.
Likewise, Zakat (the giving of alms to the poor and needy) also provides an opportunity for Islamic finance to step in and add value to the community. “If you assume that around half a million people pay Zakat as required in Islam, and assume each person’s contribution is RO 500, and if the amount is collected and pooled together, it can be used to build a hospital, school, and so on,” he said, highlighting the role that Islamic banks can play in facilitating such a goal.
Opportunities for growing the sector also abound in the halal food industry — part of a trillion dollar global economy, he said.