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It has been reported that Dubai-based Noor Islamic Bank, one of the largest Shariah-compliant financial institutions in the UAE, is planning to expand its operations to Southeast Asia in order to tap the growing Islamic banking market in the region.

"We see tremendous opportunities stemming from greater cooperation between financial institutions in Southeast Asia and the GCC," Hussain Al Qemzi, Group CEO of Noor Investment Group and CEO of Noor Islamic Bank, said in a release.

Noor Islamic is eyeing to set up operations or partnerships in countries with a large Muslim population such as like Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and also wants to enter Singapore as an important financial hub in the region.

"Asian countries are facing escalating infrastructure and development needs, backed by solid economic growth, at a time when the outlook for global lending markets remains uncertain," Al Qemzi said.

"Our aim is to work with existing financial institutions, in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, to help bridge the funding gap created by the shrinkage of the global liquidity pool," he added.

He said he believes that – as trade and investment links between the Middle East and Asia deepen – Noor Islamic was well positioned to help Southeast Asian governments and corporates to attract Islamic finance investment from the GCC, where liquidity levels remain high.

Singapore, which is an established financial market with a nascent Islamic finance industry, could be used by Noor Islamic as a base to issue sukuks and provide Shariah-compliant real estate investment trusts.

At $80 billion, Southeast Asia’s Sukuk market is the largest in the world, accounting for over two thirds of the global Sukuk market, with Malaysia in a leading role.

Noor Islamic Bank, established in 2006 in Dubai, is a subsidiary of Noor Investment Group and sister company of Noor Takaful.

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