MUSCAT: Bank Nizwa, Oman’s first Islamic bank, recently participated in a panel discussion on local banking, organised by Fikra, a youth engagement group based in the wilayat of Wadi al Ma’awel.

Held under the patronage of H E Muhanna bin Saif al Mawali, Wali of Bausher, the session aimed to empower the Omani youth by raising their awareness on what Islamic banking offers to people as individuals, as well as how this growing trend will continue to positively impact the sultanate.

The panel included Dr Ashraf al Nabhani, general manager of corporate support at Bank Nizwa, who alongside prominent Islamic economist, Adel al Hassani, and Ahmed al Hooti, chief of bureau of Al Jazeera channel in Oman, talked about the progress of Islamic banking in Oman and how the growth of this alternative banking system is contributing to the national economy.

Dr Nabhani commented, “Raising the level of awareness on Islamic banking is much more than sales and marketing, it is about delivering an understanding of how the growth of Shari’a-compliant institutions and an increased market share is functioning to strengthen economic development.”

He added, “Our products and services are inherently valuable assets and have become increasingly popular across our growing markets. However, this is just the starting point, the added value that fully-fledged Islamic banks are bringing to the socioeconomics of the sultanate is profound.”

Bank Nizwa has maintained a strong stand on raising awareness on Islamic banking since obtaining its license in 2012.

Market analysis has demonstrated that as the level of awareness increases, so does the segment’s market share, which currently rests at 4.4 per cent and has been forecast to grow to as high as 10 per cent by 2018.