Islamic banking on the rise, according to the 2018 Islamic banking Index by Emirates Islamic

October 29, 2018

The popularity of Islamic banking products continues to grow in the UAE among both Muslim and non-Muslim customers, according to the findings of the 2018 ISLAMIC BANKING INDEX by EMIRATES ISLAMIC

The index is a benchmark survey revealing the progress, penetration and perception of the Shari'a-compliant banking sector in the UAE, as well as the future intentions of the nation's banking customers.

Findings demonstrate that Islamic banks are outperforming their conventional peers in customer acquisition - 55% of the UAE consumers now have at least one Islamic banking product, compared to 47% when the Index was launched in 2015. In contrast, the penetration score for conventional bank products has shrunk from 69% in 2017 to 63% in 2018.

Commenting on the results of the 2018 Index, Wasim Saifi, Deputy CEO-Consumer Banking and Wealth Management at Emirates Islamic said: "We are delighted to see that Islamic banking continues to expand its appeal and reach, outpacing the growth of conventional banks. With 85% of the UAE's banking population open to Islamic banking products, we can anticipate that Shari'a-compliant banking will gain further traction, especially as we prepare to receive an increased number of residents and visitors in the run up to Expo 2020 Dubai."

Discussing the outlook for Islamic banking, Saifi continued, "Islamic banks have clearly done an outstanding job in enhancing the overall customer experience and proposition. The survey shows that respondents consider Islamic banks more trustworthy, supportive of the community in meaningful ways and more financially sound than their conventional counterparts, while showing a marked improvement in perception on embracing the latest technology. The opportunity for Islamic banks lies now in improving the awareness of the core values and benefits of Islamic banking while continuing to invest in digital technology to create pioneering solutions and innovative, new and differentiated customer experiences. We aim to meet and exceed the demands of today's digital-minded customer, as we work towards fulfilling the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the global capital of Islamic economy."

Launched in 2015, The ISLAMIC BANKING INDEX by EMIRATES ISLAMIC is a first-of-its-kind consumer survey that measures the progress of the Islamic banking sector in the UAE by tracking consumer behaviour and sentiment towards Shari'a-compliant banking products and services. The Index benchmarks against four indicators: ‘penetration – customers who have an Islamic banking product; perception – the average rating of Islamic banks on a range of attributes; knowledge – consumers' understanding of Islamic banking terms; and intention – how likely consumers are to subscribe to an Islamic banking product. Key findings of the 2018 ISLAMIC BANKING INDEX by EMIRATES ISLAMIC include:


  • 55% of the UAE's banking consumers now have at least one Shari'a compliant financial product – up from 52% in 2017.
  • Islamic banking products now more preferred by Muslim customers.
  • Number of non-Muslim consumers taking a product from an Islamic bank continues to rise, up by 2 percentage points to 40% this year.


  • Respondents consider Islamic banks more trustworthy, supportive of the community in meaningful ways and more financially sound than conventional banks.
  • Islamic banks have made impressive progress in customers' perception on technology - up 6 points on 2017– and mobile banking apps – up 5 points over last year, while maintaining their lead over conventional banks on being trustworthy and supporting the community in meaningful ways.
  • Muslim consumers are increasingly viewing Islamic banks as technologically advanced, up 5 points since 2017.
  • Among non-Muslims, Islamic banks have been seen falling behind conventional banks on faster service and easy procedures.


  • In 2018, Knowledge Score has increased by 3 percentage points to 39%, as compared to 36% in 2017.


  • 85% of UAE banking population open to Islamic banking products.
  • Consumers are equally likely to apply for an Islamic banking product compared to a product from a conventional bank.
  • Compared to last year, 12 percentage point increase over number of non-Muslim intenders likely to adopt an Islamic finance product in the future.