Largest Islamic energy bank to include Turkish projects

ANKARA (AA): Turkish energy projects will be able to get loans from the world’s largest Islamic energy bank, due to be set up later this year, according to the CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC). “Turkey is one of the pipeline countries. Turkish energy projects can and will be able to get loans from this financial institution,” Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the weekend Eighth Uludag Economy Summit.

The bank, slated to be called Energy Bank, will make loans for large energy projects in energy-rich countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the Caucasian countries, Russia, and Sudan through syndication, he said.

All energy types such as alternative energy, oil, gas, and petrochemicals are included, he explained.

To be established under the Qatar Financial Centre, Energy Bank already has authorized capital of $10 billion and paid-in capital of $2.5 billion, he said.

Touting Qatar as an energy hub, Al-Jaida said: “We’re the biggest LNG [liquefied natural gas] exporter in the world, have massive reserves … But we don’t have a specialized financial institution in that lucrative sector.”

He noted that the bank is a private sector initiative — not backed by the government.

Flourishing Turkish-Qatari ties

Touching on growing economic bonds between Turkey and Qatar, Al-Jaida highlighted that close political ties have helped foster good economic relations. Trade between Qatar and Turkey surged nearly 60% last year compared to 2017, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).

Bilateral trade between the two countries reached more than $1.4 billion in 2018, up from $913 million from a year earlier, says TurkStat data.

“These relations will continue, they are becoming more strategic every day. Relations are very very healthy,” he said.

Telling how last August Qatar pledged $15 billion in investment in Turkey, Al-Jaida said nearly 40 percent of this has already been realized. “We’re constantly talking with Turkish officials in various fields and sectors on how to make the rest of the investments,” he said.

Al-Jaida added that Qatar is keen to cooperate in financial services, real estate, and defense. “Those are the three most prominent sectors. Having said that, we’re also looking at retail, food, and agriculture as secondary fields of importance between our countries,” he noted.

Visiting Qatar earlier this month, Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli held meetings to boost cooperation in agriculture, especially in greenhousing. “We’re impressed with Turkey’s ability to provide their own food. We intend to follow the same path and be able to grow our food from within Qatar rather than import,” he said.

Istanbul can be Islamic financial hub for Europe

Al-Jaida underlined that Turkey and Qatar can forge successful cooperation in Islamic finance, “better than any other countries.”

Doha, Istanbul, and Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia can emerge as the global financial capitals for Islamic finance, he said, adding: “So we’re looking at the common technology, common rules, and regulations between these three centers.”

“Our goal for the strategic long-term project is that Istanbul becomes the Islamic financial hub for Europe and Kuala Lumpur for Asia, and Doha for the greater Middle East and North Africa region.”

Calling for world capital

Al-Jaida urged international investors to put their money in Qatar, as it has an attractive legal environment and provides “generous” incentives. The country also offers opportunities for tapping into countries taking part in China’s One Belt One Road initiative, including Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, and countries of Southeast Asia.

“Qatar is a rich country but we still want FDI, we want more white-collar jobs created by Qatar, and we want to create more vibrant business and financial hubs in the country,” he said. He added that the QFC is in talks with two Turkish lenders interesting in establishing branches in Qatar.