A global call for the Islamic finance industry to name the most outstanding Shariah bank in the world attracted over 14,000 votes at the end of 2019, and Islamic Finance news (IFN) is pleased to reveal that Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) is taking home the title of Best Overall Islamic Bank for the sixth year in a row, but not without strong competition from Malaysian heavyweight rivals in one of the most competitive IFN Best Banks Poll rounds in its 15-year history.
The announcement of the Best Overall Islamic Bank 2019 was originally scheduled for the 8th March 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DIB’s win is perhaps not surprising considering the repertoire of the Dubai giant which has only strengthened and deepened in 2019 following an exceptional year of growth. Maintaining its position as the largest bank in the UAE, the bank registered record earnings in 2019 at AED5.1 billion (US$1.39 billion), the highest it has been since it was established in 1975.
It also had an illustrious deal-making year. In 2019, DIB was involved in numerous landmark transactions including award-winning deals such as the US$1 billion Sharjah sovereign Sukuk which won IFN Sovereign Sukuk Deal of the Year and the US$600 million Majid Al Futtaim Sukuk issuance which was awarded IFN UAE Deal of the Year and IFN Social Impact/SRI Deal of the Year.
Apart from strong financials built upon a robust foundation, the bank also cemented its bid to become of the one of the largest fully-fledged Islamic banks globally by successfully acquiring Noor Bank at the end of last year.
DIB continues to perform in 2020. It grew its asset base by 19% to AED276 billion (US$75.13 billion) and deposits by 22% in the first quarter of this year. Despite tumultuous market conditions — from the COVID-19 pandemic to tanking oil prices — the bank managed to net a profit of over AED1.1 billion (US$299.43 million) in spite of additional provisions and buffers of nearly AED1.5 billion (US$408.32 million) as well as maintain a capital adequacy ratio of 16.5%.
With the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continuing to reverberate and persistent weak investor sentiments during what many have described as a period of severe financial and economic adversity, DIB however is taking the storm in its stride.
“The leadership team at DIB is no stranger to such adverse market phenomena. It is the same team that led the bank successfully through the 2008 financial crisis and is ready to take the challenge and navigate the bank in the current economic environment as well,” Group CEO Dr Adnan Chilwan assured investors and clients, when the bank announced its first quarter results.
And investor confidence in the DIB brand, which spans across the GCC region as well as in South Asia and Africa through its Pakistani and Kenyan operations, is evident as demonstrated by the overwhelming support for its debt offerings: its two US$750 million Sukuk sold in 2019 were oversubscribed as was its latest US$1 billion paper closed this week.
The IFN Best Banks Poll, launched in 2005, has the distinction of being the trusted barometer of excellence for Islamic banks worldwide, recognizing the best providers of Islamic financial services across a series of markets and sectors as voted by the readers of IFN. The contest for Best Overall Islamic Bank in the latest installment of the poll, which employed an enhanced screening and voting process, is the tightest-ever with strong showings from Malaysian powerhouses CIMB Islamic and Maybank Islamic which grabbed the positions of first runner-up and second runner-up respectively.