QIIB expects to secure the licence from the Moroccan authorities for its joint-venture bank in the kingdom before the year-end, chief executive officer Abdulbasit A.al-Shaibei has said.
“We are well-prepared. On the day we get the final approval, we can press the green button and go,” al-Shaibei told Gulf Times in an interview.  
Last year, QIIB had signed a joint venture agreement with Morocco’s CIH Bank (Credit Immobilier et Hotelier) for the establishment of a bank in the kingdom. This step followed a detailed feasibility study that was conducted by QIIB taking into consideration all factors such as the expected returns on investment and other market factors.
He said QIIB and its partners in Morocco have identified the branches and installed the IT systems.
Al-Shaibei said QIIB firmly believed that Morocco presented a “good opportunity” for the bank.
“We have a commitment with Morocco; we have been working on it for many years now. Morocco is one country, which enjoys economic and political stability. Moroccan authorities are waiting for the emergence of Islamic banking in the kingdom,” the QIIB chief executive officer noted.
Al-Shaibei said QIIB viewed Morocco as a “gateway” to North Africa.
“There is a huge market waiting to be tapped in North Africa, which is in need of Shariah-based, value-driven banking. Morocco can provide us a gateway to this huge market and the kingdom has good relationship with the countries in North Africa,” he said.
While there are opportunities, al-Shaibei said any new market would pose some challenges.
“I don’t expect the road to be smooth. Definitely, some challenges ought to be there. There may be challenges with regard to the market itself or those related to educating customers and training personnel. But we believe we can write a success story in Morocco with the experience and expertise we have with our partners in the kingdom,” al-Shaibei said.
In terms of overseas ventures, he said QIIB would now be focused only on Morocco.
“Until the economic situation improves in the region, we will not be looking at other places for expansion,” the QIIB chief executive officer said.
Al-Shaibei said he remained very optimistic about the Qatari economy.
“Our economy is in a growth mode now; I expect it to grow next year also. All the infrastructure-related projects are steaming ahead as planned. Clearly, there are opportunities for us,” the prominent Qatari banker said.
Al-Shaibei said 2016 was a challenging year not just in the Middle East, but everywhere.
“The challenges were not because of the lower energy prices alone. The oil price is only one element. There are other elements too. The shape of the global economy and interest rates has a bearing on the national economy in every country,” al-Shaibei noted.
“I personally believe the banks in the region are still carrying some issues from 2008, mostly in relation to the non-performing loans. I believe this is an opportunity to clean up everything.”