Abdulrahman Shehab, Senior Vice President – Head of Operations & Administration of Al Baraka Banking Group (B.S.C.), a leading international Islamic bank, gives an interview to MuslimEco.Ru
Mr. Shehab, What do you know about Islam in Russia?
lslam is currently the second most widely professed religion in the Russian Federation. Adyghe, Balkans, Chechens, Circassians, Ingush, Kabardin, Karachay, and numerous Dagestani people in Russia are Muslims.
Also, in the middle of the Volga Basin reside populations of Tatars and Bashkirs, atleast 95% of whom are Muslims. To be precise, of all Muslims of Russia, Tatar nationality forms about 1/3. There is also a sizable number of Russian converts to Islam and around 2 million Muslims live in Moscow alone.
Three years back, the biggest mosque was opened in Chechnya.
Russia has a Mufti Council which is separate from the state and the Government or the President.
Do you consider Russia prospectful market for Islamic finance? Please give reasons.
Given the high population of Muslims in Russia, we believe that it is a potential market for Islamic Banking operations. The fact that there is not any single Islamic bank yet in Russia makes it alluring for Islamic finance. Therefore, we believe that Islamic finance will find its way through the financial market in the Russian Federation. After the countdown of Financial Crisis, Islamic banking has proved to the world that it is less affected by crisis.
In your opinion, what are the obstacles for development of Islamic finance in Russia?
As per information given by some Russian bankers, the issuance of a Banking License in Russia normally takes 2-3 years. To avoid the time delay, the Russian Government has to formulate a Special Law in order to attract Islamic investors to the Federation as done by other constitutions such as U.K., Singapore as well as Arab countries like Lebanon, Syria etc.
What do you think of establishment of business relations with Russian companies?
Islamic banks like any other financial institutions look forward to good business opportunities all over the world. We believe that the Russian market is a potential market and doing business with Russia in many business and industrial areas such as exploration of oil, gas, mining, wood etc. will help to establish grounded relationship between Islamic banks and Russian companies.
What industry is most alluring for you in Russia?
Islamic banking would be No.1 and No.2, the field of exploration of natural resources definitely must be most alluring for investors in Russia.
What subjects would be interesting to you in particular to be presented at Moscow International Halal Exhibition (Moscow Halal Expo 2010)?
We look forward for the following subjects in the exhibition:
- Islamic Banking and Finance
- Exploration of natural resources
- Real estate finance
- Projects Finance
Best wishes for the success of Moscow – Halal Expo- 2010 and also of the launch of the Internet Website for Islamic Economics, Business and Finance.