The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) has ordered
commercial banks to shutter their Islamic banking units by the end
of the year.

If the circular issued by the QCB is
implemented, big losers among the 16 conventional banks offering
Islamic banking services in Qatar will include:
Qatar National Bank (QNB), Doha Bank, International Bank of Qatar,
the Commercial Bank of Qatar and Al Ahli Commercial

With more than 10% of its total assets in
Islamic banking, QNB will be the biggest loser.

The QCB has permitted conventional banks
to offer Islamic banking services since 2005, with QNB the first
commercial bank in Qatar to offer Sharia-compliant services the
same year via its QNB Al Islami subsidiary.

That unit now has 11 branches,
complementing QNB’s 44 conventional outlets.

By contrast, Qatar Islamic Bank, Qatar
International Islamic Bank and Masraf Al Rayan will be positively
impacted as a result of the QCB ruling.

The central bank’s blunt directive – and
in particular, the lack of advance market consultation – will be
viewed with dismay by international lenders, concerned that other
central banks in the region could follow the Qatari

HSBC’s Islamic division, HSBC Amanah, said
in a statement that it was looking to find a “workable solution”
with the QCB.

International interest in Qatar has
intensified since the country was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup
in December. QNB acted as official bid partner of the succesful
World Cup campaign.