Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Amlak plans Saudi foray by year-end

Amlak Finance aims to begin operations in Saudi Arabia and Egypt by the end of the year, its chief executive said. The Dubai-based Islamic mortgage firm says the opportunities in these virgin markets are exciting for a firm such as Amlak, which aims to follow parent firm, Emaar Properties, where opportunities exist.

Emaar, which owns 45 per cent of Amlak, is developing the $26.6 billion (Dh97bn) King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea, the largest private sector initiative in the Kingdom."The opportunity in Saudi is just colossal," Mohammed Ali Al Hashimi said. Emaar also has several projects in Egypt. The underdeveloped Egyptian property market, where mortgages have only been available since 2004, presents further opportunities, he said. "Remember, Amlak developed in Dubai, which is tiny compared to the size of these markets." Dubai has a population of little more than one million; Egypt's population is around 75 million, while Saudi has around 25 million.

Al Hashimi said the company, like rival mortgage house Tamweel, is also hoping to receive a licence to become an Islamic bank from the central bank, but has received no word on its application. Financial results are expected to continue to be strong; he said third-quarter results would be "good".

Amlak in July reported a first-half net profit of Dh80 million, up 60 per cent on the same period last year. Second-quarter profit reached Dh42.9m, compared with Dh30.5m in the same period of 2005 and Dh37.1m in the first quarter of this year.

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