BBK launched Al-Khaleej Islamic Bankin partnership with The International Investor (TII)in 1999, capitalised at $12.5 million (MEED 20:8:03). However, the venture has lain dormant since the withdrawal of TII, in order to concentrate on the bank’s proposed merger with Albaraka Banking Group.

‘The original idea was to diversify away from Islamic banking’s focus on retail and real estate products into investment banking,’ says BBK general manager Farid al-Mulla. ‘But we may go for retail after all. That is one of the options being considered.’ BBK is in discussions with the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA – central bank) over the proposed licence application. The new unit is likely to be capitalised at $10 million-12 million.

BBK is pursuing a wider strategy of diversifying its financial services offerings and is also considering taking a majority stake in Bahrain Kuwait Insurance Company(MEED 14:11:03).