Dubai – MENA Herald: The high-quality assets of Arab Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade (Al Masraf) has jumped to over AED 14.02 billion 40 years after its inception, while its credit portfolio remains of high quality and comprises high-net-worth customers inclusive of major companies and business groups. Al Masraf has grown remarkably over the past years by financing business and trade industries and investing in a variety of commercial projects across the UAE all of which have helped boost the bank’s financing portfolio to more than AED 8.5 billion by the first half of 2015.

Al Masraf has attracted more deposits that currently amounting to AED 8.86 billion due to expanding its customer base over the past years. The deposits are reinvested to optimally leverage various economical channels with the goal of upholding shareholder interests and increasing their annual returns. Throughout H1 2015, Al Masraf scored a net profit of AED 182 million, an increase of 13 per cent over last year’s AED 161 million for the same period.

Faisal H. Galadari, CEO of Al Masraf, said: “The bank is seeing massive development in its performance and quality of services offered to customers; moreover, it has made many contributions to financing projects across the UAE and other Arab countries since its inauguration by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1975 in Abu Dhabi. The inception of Al Masraf originates from Sheikh Zayed’s national vision of supporting the business and investment sectors by promoting cooperation and joint ventures between Arab countries with the aim of boosting economic growth and development in the Arab World for the benefit of Arab societies.”

Galadari added: “After 40 years of operation, we reaffirm our commitment to offering best-in-class, high-quality financial and banking services to our customers,” Galadari added. “We will continue to contribute to the development of trade, investment and other economic activities in the UAE and Arab countries. We plan to further expand through performance-enhancing programs, plans and strategies in the coming period. Al Masraf has established a three-year (2013-2016) strategic plan which focuses on budget re-structuring and the diversification and quality improvement of assets to surpass the current level of AED 14.02 billion achieved by end of H1 2015. The bank’s asset quality plays an essential role in improving its performance and directly affects profits.”

“We at Al Masraf focus on diversification and on attracting good customers who are able to fulfill their obligations based on extensive customer studies and research. We are confident of the very high quality of the bank’s assets and financing portfolio,” he said.

Al Masraf’s strategy also ensures the optimal use of available financial resources. The focus for the current and coming year is the development and diversification of the bank’s credit portfolio to include Islamic services and products, in addition to expanding the bank’s customer base of individuals and SMEs. Such a move will be backed by financial resources which primarily focus on expanding customer deposits by offering competitive services and products to attract more deposits which currently stand at more than AED 8.86 billion. The bank’s credit portfolio has reached over AED 8.5 billion during H1 2015, a growth of 16 per cent over the same period last year

In 2015, Al Masraf introduced financing programs and solutions to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and SMEs. These offer unique and highly competitive financing solutions for business startups in cooperation with the Khalifa Fund. They reflect the policy of diversification forming part of the banks’ current strategy to serve SMEs which are considered to be one of the most prominent sectors in the UAE.

In the same year, Al Masraf also opened a new branch in Jumeirah, Dubai that offers Shariah-complaint banking services. It plans to establish an additional Islamic banking section across all its 10 existing branches in line with the bank’s strategy to diversify its offerings and attract more customers who are looking for either conventional or Islamic banking services.

Galadari said: “We plan to raise the number of our branches to 12 with the opening of two new branches, one of which will be in Ras al Khaimah and is set to be launched by Q1 2016.”

“Al Masraf’s strategy includes re-arranging the organizational structure in order to better facilitate transactions and develop new systems for addressing ongoing developments. Each year we invest significantly in IT and HR development, especially for our Emirati talents with a focus on improving their competencies and qualifications to enable them to optimally carry out their functions at the bank. We plan to attain 30 per cent Emiratization by end of this year and further increase this figure in 2016,” he concluded.