BAGHDAD, July 29 Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
, the second-largest Islamic lender in the United Arab
Emirates (UAE), began operating its first branch in Baghdad this
month, aiming to play a role in the development of private
banking in Iraq, the bank said.
The OPEC country is slowly getting back on its feet nine
years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled former Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein and it needs foreign investment in
virtually every sector to rebuild its dilapidated
Iraq is expected to be the world's biggest source of new oil
supplies over the next few years after signing contracts with
international oil companies, and draw more investment in other
areas like infrastructure.
"The country is on the comeback, business conditions have
improved considerably and it's the right time to get in," Tirad
Al Mahmoud, CEO of ADIB, said in a statement.
Iraq is safer now than the years of the sectarian violence
in 2006-07 but attacks and bombings are still happening daily.
Just last week, more than 100 people were killed in coordinated
attacks across the country.
The Central Bank of Iraq confirmed granting a license for
the UAE bank to open a branch in the country.
According to the central bank website, Iraq has seven
state-owned banks, 23 private banks, and 11 Islamic private
banks, including Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.
Most banking activities are conducted by two state-owned
banks, Rafidain and Rashid. Much of the private banking activity
is limited to deposit services and a small amount is personal
"Our challenges are clear. We aim to increase the private
sector banks' share of the Iraqi market from the current level
of less than 20 percent and to develop the Islamic banking
industry there," Mahmoud said.
(Reporting by Aseel Kami; Editing by Diane Craft)