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Providing a viable Islamic alternative to the conventional investment approach

Article - November 20, 2014

With demand in the business investment sector amongst the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets rising, Al-Imtiaz is a prime example of how investment companies in the region, and Kuwait specifically, are taking responsibility for creating and improving sustainable economic growth.

KHALID SULTAN BEN ESSA, CHAIRMAN OF AL-IMTIAZ

Over the past decade Al-Imtiaz has set out to meet the increasing demand of the Gulf’s business investment sector, and in doing so has become one of the region’s leading organizations in the development of wealth of both shareholders and customers, as well as aiding the national economy to achieve full strength by engaging in projects that represent real value and promote productivity in the society.

While Al-Imtiaz’s business operations are mainly targeted at the Kuwaiti financial and banking industry, in addition to investment, industrial, real estate, and service-based sectors, it also facilitates related opportunities inside the GCC markets, which the company considers as one market, sharing various aspects of similarity, interdependence, and symmetry.

“We are semi-diversified geographically,” explains Chairman of Al-Imtiaz and former Kuwaiti MP, Khalid Sultan Ben Essa. “We have investments in Qatar, Oman, the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, across the GCC group. We also have investments in the MENA region mainly in Egypt and Jordan. Additionally, we have investments internationally in U.K.-based entities.”

“This needs to be aligned with our strategy moving forward,” continues Mr. Sultan, whose company managed to survive the global financial crisis thanks to its strong asset base.

Although still facing issues of liquidity like many of the other companies operating in Kuwait’s financial sector, the chairman of Al-Imtiaz believes that the crisis has contributed to the changing of attitudes regarding the world’s economies for good.

“The time has come to fundamentally re-think and change the model that drives business environment,” he says. “There has to be a balance between driving for a liberated economic environment and placing adequate controls.”

And while a large part of the responsibility for placing such controls and regulations must fall on the government, it is private companies such as Al-Imtiaz who are now looking at how they themselves can become more responsible in driving the economy forward.

“Today we are redeveloping the identity of Al-Imtiaz and assessing the best strategy moving forward,” stresses the chairman. “The Islamic financing sector is promising in many respects with several high potential opportunities.”

“[But] it is not enough to say we are Sharia-compliant,” he adds. “We must hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard, coupled with an elevated degree of transparency and this has to be in parallel with the idea of putting in place proper structures for compliance.”

Employing this mindset, Mr. Sultan and Al-Imtiaz are focused on adapting a new approach to their business in 2014.

“Our main objective is to replenish liquidity into the company and restructure our sources of revenue. We plan to re-establish our financial services activities to clients and support our subsidiary companies by giving them the necessary tools to become strong operating entities within their own sectors.”

“We strive to meet and exceed the expectations of our shareholders, and the expectations of potential investors to provide a real and viable Islamic alternative to the conventional investment approach.”

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