A joint Islamic bank between Syria, Turkey and Qatar is being considered, Qatar International Islamic Bank CEO Abdul Basit al-Shaibei told participants of the Syrian-Turkish Banking Forum in Damascus on May 3.
Speaking at the two-day conference, Shaibei said the bank is investigating further banking opportunities in Syria following the “extraordinary” success of the Syrian International Islamic Bank, in which the Qatari bank is a major shareholder.
“We are currently considering the establishment of a joint Syrian-Qatari-Turkish bank,” Shaibei said. “The success of the Syrian International Islamic Bank leaves no room for doubt that regional partnerships are our best option.”
Central Bank of Syria (CBS) Governor Adib Mayaleh said Syria has been able to elude the effects of the global financial crisis because of the country’s careful monetary strategy and diversified economy.
Mayaleh praised Syrian-Turkish economic relations which have strengthened rapidly in the past few years, particularly following the implementation of a free trade agreement between the two countries in 2007. He also stressed the importance of Syrian-Turkish relations, noting that the two sides are keen to bolster relations through financial and banking cooperation, commercial exchanges and investments.
Bank Audi Syria General Manager Bassel Hamwi said a lack of adequately qualified human resources and developed infrastructure are the main challenges facing the private banking sector in Syria. However, Hamwi said the sector is moving in the right direction to address these issues.
“We are fortunate to work in a regulatory framework that is constantly evolving,” he said.
Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) Market Director Recep Bildik also spoke at the event. He said the ISE now uses a fully computerised trading system and ranks fifth in the world in terms of bonds and bills trading volume.
Syria opened its first stock exchange, the Damascus Securities Exchange (DSE), last March. DSE Chairman Rateb al-Shallah reiterated that the DSE is not a speculative market. “We want to attract buyers and sellers, not gamblers,” he said.