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Registration open for Bank Muscat ‘Jesr al Mustaqbal’ youth scholarships

MUSCAT, 12 December 2012 – Following a successful year of educational and vocational training support to numerous beneficiaries, registration is open for intake of a new batch of  ‘Jesr al Mustaqbal’ (Bridge to Future) youth scholarships from Bank Muscat aimed at providing relevant educational and training opportunities to Omani youth to develop employable skills.  

The programme launched as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) offers study and vocational training sponsorships for young Omanis - both male and female from low-income and limited income families who have not been able to complete their education for various reasons.

The bank has set aside 20 per cent of its CSR budget for the programme. Scholarships will be distributed to students from all provinces in the country in the ratio of 60 per cent to interior regions and 40 per cent to Muscat region.

The bank organised a ceremony to felicitate the 2012 beneficiaries of ‘Jesr al Mustaqbal’ youth scholarships and announce the new programme for 2013.

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Maisarah Islamic banking Services

11th December 2012 Muscat, BankDhofar is ready to launch ‘Maisarah’ Islamic Banking Services subject to the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) approval. ‘Maisarah’, meaning ease or comfort, will be a fully serviced Islamic Window which will enable customers to access Sharia'a compliant products and services through its highly skilled Islamic banking division which was established at the start of the year.

An extensive feasibility study into Islamic banking was conducted by BankDhofar as a direct response to the Royal Decree issued by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in order to ensure that the bank offers its customers a best in class Islamic banking experience. The study focussed on what customers required to become confident with Islamic banking and the market expectations. To meet these requirements and to facilitate the smooth operation, Maisarah has invested in industry leading core banking system and technology. It has also put an extensive training and development plan in place for the staff of its Islamic banking division to enable them to deal with all Sharia'a compliant transactions with ease. Already awareness training programs for the staff members in all regions have been conducted successfully.

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Fault lines in GCC banking sector threaten recent growth, according to AlixPartners study

Restructuring and diversification needed to attain ‘Diamond Age’ of banking

DUBAI (11 December, 2012) – While a new era of development has begun for banks in the GCC, the macroeconomic environment remains precarious and industry-specific risks need to be addressed to ensure that recent growth and increasing profitability are sustained. A study released today by AlixPartners, the global business advisory firm, highlights the return of profits and notable performance at both the individual bank and GCC-country level, while identifying some fundamental fault lines in the GCC banking sector that will hinder any progress unless restructuring efforts are made.

The report suggests that significant risks in the economic environment remain, requiring immediate counter-measures by bank managers.  First, the recovery in banks’ net interest margin (the difference between the interest income generated by banks and the amount of interest paid out to their lenders, relative to the amount of their interest-earning assets), which the report says has been driven mostly by government infrastructure projects, underscores that the link between banking performance and oil prices is too close.  Heavy government involvement in such projects, which guarantees free capital to the system, coupled with protection at home, has resulted in safe and stable returns, notes the study. In order to be successful globally, however, GCC banks must learn to survive without these securities and compete internationally.

Second, the-still cheap funding that has sustained GCC banks’ lending is constrained by the withdrawal of Western banks’ lending, and by an underdeveloped interbank financing market. Other significant risks highlighted in the report include the stark contrast between the sector’s relatively strong capital base and improved credit ratings, and GCC banks’ underlying non-performing loans in some countries and contradictory lending practices that often intertwine personal and business dimensions – coupled with government intervention, generates inefficient asset allocation at best, and fosters moral hazard at worst. Finally, the concentration of GCC banks in a few geographies and those countries’ limited populations may seriously constrain future wealth generation, notes the study.

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Bank Muscat honoured for outstanding national manpower initiatives

MUSCAT, 11 December 2012 - In recognition of outstanding achievements in employment and training programmes for national manpower and compliance with labour-related legislation, Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, was honoured with two awards at a ceremony organised by the Ministry of Manpower.

AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive, received the awards at the ceremony held under the auspices of H.E Dr Yahya bin Mahfoudh al Mantheri, Chairman of Majlis Addawla. Salim al Kaabi, DGM – Human Resources, attended the ceremony in which Aziza Mohammed al Hinai and Nabhan Salem al Dhahabi, employed with Bank Muscat since 1976 and 1986 respectively, were also felicitated for long service with the bank.

AbdulRazak Ali Issa said: “Bank Muscat is proud to be honoured once again for its commitment and achievement in national manpower initiatives. The bank pursues a comprehensive and continuous plan to develop Omani skills. The HR initiatives of the bank are integral to the business strategies, providing a competitive edge."

The bank was recertified this year as an Investor in People (IiP) organisation, affirming its human resources management practices in conformity with benchmark international standards. The bank presently has over 3100 employees with Omanisation level exceeding 93 per cent. The bank appointed 366 Omanis at various levels in 2012.

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Bank Muscat Shopping Festival 2nd weekly prize draw winners announced

MUSCAT, 10 December 2012 – The second weekly prize draw of the 3rd Bank Muscat Shopping Festival was held at the bank’s head office in which 30 winners, including citizens and residents, won RO 300 each. Spreading the festival cheer, Bank Muscat has lined up five weekly draws offering RO 300 each for 150 winners. Thirty winners are selected every week and a total of RO 45,000 will be given away in prize money during the 41-day shopping extravaganza which runs till 31 December.

The mechanism for the weekly draw is that for every Bank Muscat card transaction worth RO 10 spent at participating merchant outlets, customers get a chance to win. Each transaction is equal to one chance, thus the more they use their card, the better their chances to win. Entries for the draw will be captured electronically.

For the third year, the festival is supported by Visa International. Extending a strong support to the government’s e-Governance initiative, the festival encourages customers to pay by cards, underscoring the fact that payment by cards is both convenient and secure. More than 250 brand partners and over 500 outlets are participating in the festival.

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BankDhofar named best commercial bank in Oman

9th December 2012 Muscat, BankDhofar has been named Best Commercial Bank, Sultanate of Oman, 2012 by leading international finance magazine, World Finance. This is the first time that BankDhofar has won this award and it is the only bank in the Sultanate to have received this accolade.

“We are delighted to have won this award which is a clear endorsement of BankDhofar’s strong customer focus and commitment to excellence. We have been working hard to ensure that we are the best bank in the Gulf by investing in our people, our products and our technology. Our chief aim is to ensure that our customers have a best in class banking experience.” said Tony Mahoney, CEO, BankDhofar.

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Good response to Bank Muscat SME workshop

MUSCAT, 9 December 2012 – Existing and prospective entrepreneurs turned out in large numbers at a 2-day SME workshop jointly hosted by Bank Muscat  and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). The exclusive Al Wathbah workshop, open to all, concludes today (Monday 10 December 2012), at the bank’s head office. Expert trainers from IFC led the sessions aimed at inspiring and engaging entrepreneurs to propel their projects with easy business techniques.

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BankDhofar Al Heson Prize Drawtakes to the seas

8th Dec 2012 Muscat, BankDhofar held  its recent Al Heson prize draw on the Huromz Ferry, as it sailed from the Sultan Qaboos Port at Matrah to Qurum, to much excitement to all those on board. BankDhofar was the main sponsor of this unique event which was organized by the Muscat Women Business Centre and coincided with Oman Women’s day. The bank was delighted to be involved as it enabled it to celebrate with its female customers and employees.

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Countdown begins for al Mazyona RO 1 million grand prize

MUSCAT,  8 December 2012 – The RO 1 million al Mazyona year-end grand prize campaign from Bank Muscat was celebrated by South Muscat customers following similar celebrations in Dakhiliyah, Dhofar, Batinah and Muscat governorates. With only three weeks to go for the grand prize draw, an exciting countdown has started for the biggest savings scheme prize in Oman.

A large turn-out of customers and bank officials attended the event held at the bank’s head office. The programmes included recital of a National Day poem and theatre play educating people on prudent savings habits.

Nasser Al Balushi, Acting Regional Manager – South Muscat, thanked the dignitaries attending the ceremony. Al Balushi said: “The series of big prizes from Bank Muscat is the major attraction of al Mazyona which offers fair and transparent winning chances for all segments of customers. Following on the three quarterly prize draws offering RO 300,000 each, the focus now is on the climax of al Mazyona’s RO 1 million year-end grand prize.”

Al Balushi added: “al Mazyona reaffirms the bank's vision and constant efforts to fulfill the aspirations and ambitions of the largest banking family in Oman. The flagship savings scheme has won the hearts of people and succeeded in linking to issues benefitting society. The bank attaches great importance to inculcating prudent savings and spending habits and has tailored al Mazyona scheme with this objective in mind.”

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