Shamil has invested $12.5 million in the fund, which will close at the end of February and has a tenor of four years. CIAM, whose parent company is state-owned Chinese conglomerate CITIC Group, has contributed $7.5 million. ‘For GCC investors, real estate is something they like. They can see real estate and are comfortable with the sector. People may be cautious – they don’t know China yet – but real estate is easy to understand,’ says Shamil’s head of investment banking Ahmad Tayara. ‘China is trying to encourage foreign direct investment. Islamic products allow China to tap into the pockets of those interested in sharia-compliant finance.’

CIAM-Shamil Assets Management, owned by Shamil and CITIC and advised by Maple & Calder, will administer the fund. Shamil and CIAM are expected to establish further funds in sectors where CITIC, which has total assets of $86,000 million, has experience. CITIC’s core interests are in banking, industry and service sectors.

Shamil is also developing a $50 million private equity fund to invest in south east Asia, including India and China. The bank is preparing the investor package for the eight-year fund.