Noor Trade, a division of Noor Bank, is aiming to open more branches in Dubai as it ramps up its support for small and medium-sized businesses (SME).

The division opened its third Dubai branch in mid-February, and the bank is planning to open two more branches in the emirate in 2015, Usman Khakwani, head of business banking at Noor Trade tells MEED.

The bank’s continuing expansion will help the division hit its lending target of AED5bn ($1.4bn) by 2017, a target set when the division launched in 2013.

The new branches are going to be in Dubai World Central (DWC) close to the new Al-Maktoum airport and in Bur Dubai.

Khakwani tells MEED that the market for SME finance is getting increasingly competitive with a number of new institutions entering the market.

“There is a lot more financing available compared to a few years ago,” he says, adding that there is an increasing risk that some small businesses might borrow too much and not be able to repay debt.

“We do a rigorous check on our clients and ensure we assess clients… before approving any facilities,” he says.

Local banks are increasingly playing a larger role in providing SME finance as some international banks withdraw from the sector. UK bank Standard Chartered announced its exit from the business in mid-2014.

Noor Bank rebranded itself at the start of 2014, removing the term “Islamic” from its original name Noor Islamic Bank

Although remaining a provider of products that comply with Islamic law, the bank expects the new name will help Noor Bank expand in the UAE.

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