Could you provide a brief journey of how you arrived where you are today?
I started my career at Commercial International Bank, Egypt, where I worked for the Treasury and investment division and the corporate banking division. I then joined Dubai Islamic Bank’s senior management team before becoming the chief executive officer and board member of Amwal, Qatar. I have also been vice-president of Abraaj Capital, where I was involved in the entire value chain of the firm’s private equity business.
What does your role involve?
Everything that being a CEO and board member entails.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Of course I take pride in all I have achieved to date, but the highlight of my career is founding CORECAP, an investment and advisory firm, with a group of close professionals and investors who I have had long and successful relationships with, that were built on great achievements and some of the region’s landmark transactions. I am delighted to say that we are one of the fastest growing firms in the region and are playing a leading role in the alternative investment domain in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Which of your products/services deliver the best results?
We have been mandated by the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT), Government of Abu Dhabi, to advise on a CERT US$100 million venture capital fund, a five-year close ended vehicle investing primarily in the embryonic and evolving technology, healthcare and education sectors. The fund is targeting an IRR of a minimum 25%.
We have also launched this month a US$150 million CORECAP Islamic Private Equity Fund I (CIPEF I) which offers the first Shariah compliant mezzanine structure worldwide. CIPEF I is a close-ended six-year fund targeting a minimum IRR of 25%.
What are the strengths of your business?
Our strength lies in the team’s outstanding execution capabilities stemming from a cumulative 126 years of experience in private equity, Islamic finance, investment banking, asset management, capital markets and real estate, among other industries. Our team consists of a diverse mix of seven nationalities. This wealth of expertise, together with a strong focus on strategic leadership, has created the base for what we are today and will continue to drive our business’s success in the future.
What are the factors contributing to the success of your company?
At CORECAP, we share the same core values and beliefs of integrity, professionalism and determination. We foster an environment of entrepreneurship and strive for innovation in everything we do. We have a partnership mindset and are focused on achieving a win–win relationship with every party we deal with. We are disciplined in our approach and measure our achievements by our overall contribution to all of our stakeholders. We are a management-driven firm and our interests are aligned with those of our shareholders and investors.
What are the obstacles faced in running your business today?
Private equity in general and Islamic private equity in particular are still in their very early stages. Today, one of the main challenges in this industry is the lack of available data. Additionally, there are only a limited number of professionals who are well trained in the principles of Shariah law and their application, especially when it comes to the development of new products and structures.
Where do you see the Islamic finance industry, maybe in the next five years?
Islamic finance has witnessed tremendous growth over the past years, both in terms of the growth of the entire industry and in terms of development of new and ever more sophisticated products that meet the growing demand for structured products and comply with the principles of Shariah law. Going forward, a number of factors such as the growth in Muslim population, an enormous increase in wealth of this population, as well as a sharp rise in interest from non-Muslim investors, governments, financial institutions and capital markets to enter the Islamic finance and investment space, will drive the growth of the industry and lead the development of ever more sophisticated products.
We believe there is a lot of scope for upcoming Shariah compliant structures. Islamic private equity is one of many answers to an ever-increasing demand for structured products in the market, and although it is still in its very early stages, it promises to be one of the most successful fields within the Islamic finance space, both in terms of investor interest and in terms of superior risk-adjusted returns.
Name one thing you would like to see change in the world of Islamic finance?
I would like to see uniform Shariah compliance standards. This could be achieved through forming one Shariah supervisory board in the world that supervises all Shariah boards on a country level and industry/business level.
CORECAP is an investment and advisory firm in Dubai that offers a spectrum of investment opportunities in alternative asset classes in the MENA region. The firm originates, structures and leverages its investors’ capital to fund management-led buy-outs and buy-ins, consolidations, growth capital, recapitalizations, equity and mezzanine private placements.