Arif Abdulla Alharmi, Managing Director & CEO, Amlak Finance PJSC speaks with Islamic Business & Finance to discuss his institutions focus in 2018
editor's pickSaturday 03, November 2018
What did the win for best Islamic Home Finance mean for Amlak Finance?
We are proud to have been recognised by the Islamic Business & Finance Awards in the category “Best Islamic Home Finance” category. This Award is a testament to our hard work and Amlak’s commitment to constantly delivering superior and ethical products and services -in compliance with Shari'ah and global standards. We will continue to focus on our strategy and look forward to providing innovative and leading products and services to our customers.
What were Amlak Finance's biggest accomplishments in 2017?
We have had quite a few accomplishments in 2017. We launched the first-of-its-kind ‘Double Your Property’ product, which allows customers who own a fully paid-off residential or commercial property in the UAE to purchase another duplicate property with no additional investment. Its launch ensued in a number of strategic business partnerships with key industry players such as with the Dubai Land Department (DLD). Through these partnerships, we aim to boost real estate transaction activity in the market by allowing us to serve a wider customer base in the UAE and provide a channel for non-residents to invest in the Dubai market.
One of the main highlights for Amlak was also the completion of our first fully-owned residential development project in Mirdiff, Dubai. This project was truly a testament to our forward thinking approach while further strengthening our leadership position in the market. Through such developments we hope to continue to enhance the value of the real estate market in addition to fulfilling our commitments to our shareholders.
Furthermore, through the successful execution of our corporate strategy and efforts to develop our real estate investments, Amlak was able to further redeem AED 100 Million of the Mudharaba Instrument in 2017 (reaching AED 309 million in total), and thereby strengthening our shareholder equity.
In addition to this, Amlak was awarded with the prestigious CSR Label by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry for our CSR efforts. We received this award for the second consecutive year in a row.
Tell me about the property financing products and solutions that Amlak offers.
At Amlak, we are committed to providing our customers with innovative Shari'ah compliant products and services. We strive to constantly enhance our services in order to keep up with our growing market. With this in mind, we are always looking at how we can expand our product portfolio and enhance our customer service.
We also offer a wide range of customised financial solutions and products to investors for both ready and off-plan properties. Some of our most popular products include Istithmari (Buy-to-Let Property Finance), Ijarah (basic home finance), and Tatweer (off-plan financing product for investors as well as end-users). These continue to see high demand from our customers.
The ‘Double Your Property’ product provides non-residents and UAE residents with the same key benefit: the ability to further increase their property portfolio in the UAE market by virtue of already owing a fully paid-up property. This platform provides residents and non-resident investors with easy-entry into the market as well as leveraging their existing investments to grow their portfolio.
Our ‘Private Construction Finance’ product provides financing to private investors carrying out private construction as an investment in the UAE. The customer is free to appoint any Contractor (subject to Amlak’s consent) for the construction. And finally, our ‘Platinum Lifestyle Takaful’ product is our comprehensive Takaful product which is available to customers at competitive prices.
What differentiates Amlak from its competition?
At Amlak we are focused on providing exceptional customer service and continually expanding our product offerings.
With a rapidly growing market like UAE, it is crucial that we grow with the market and enhance our offerings to ensure we can meet our customers’ needs. We believe as long as we continue to offer innovative and superior products and put our customers first, we can continue to lead the market.
What are the main challenges that you face, and how are you overcoming those challenges?
Low oil prices, tight liquidity conditions and other geopolitical difficulties are some of the prevailing challenges in the region—this also means that, at least for the short-term, liquidity will be tight and market activity and financing more cautious. Having said this, I am proud that Amlak Finance delivered yet another resilient performance against this challenging back drop. We remain confident in the UAE and the local market as progress in economic diversification will help reduce market volatility and bring about more stability and efficiency to the market in the long run, as everyone adjusts to the new market realities. It will also further strengthen the resilience of the UAE’s economy.
What opportunities do you see for the future?
Our long-term goal is to continue sustainable growth for Amlak. We will continue to focus on what we do best and build on the momentum generated over the past years. We will do this by developing viable business strategies, attracting suitable funding and offering innovative products and services designed specifically for our target markets. We also recognise that growth requires exploring potential business opportunities as well as investing in our people, infrastructure and customer service delivery platforms.
What else do you have planned for 2018?
In 2018, we will carry on building capabilities around our strategy and drive improvements across the organisation. We will also continue to focus on core business development, product & service differentiation, boosting operational efficiencies, driving profitability, and enhancing value for our shareholders.
This year, we look forward to seeing some of our key projects and initiatives come to fruition. Our long-term focus at Amlak continues to be on growing our business and positioning the company as one of the leading specialised real estate financiers in UAE and the Middle East. While there may be challenges ahead, I am confident that Amlak, with continuous support from its financiers, liquidity support providers and shareholders, will be well-positioned to capitalise on the improving economic backdrop in the UAE. We look forward to seizing these opportunities.