The United Arab Emirates continues to offer fertile ground for Islamic insurance or takaful and would likely become one of the significant players in the development of this sector in the Gulf region, according to industry sources.
Stefan Egger, deputy general manager and consultant to the board at Takaful Emarat, said on Sunday that takaful contributions in the UAE reached a hefty $640 million (Dh2.35 billion) in 2009 • trailing behind the largest regional market, Saudi Arabia, which obtained total contributions of $3.86bn.
"UAE has made great strides in ensuring that the environment here is conducive to the growth of takaful as an industry. The UAE recently issued regulations specific to the takaful [sector] including the appointment of a central shariah committee similar to that in Malaysia," Egger said.
He mentioned that the recent move supports a federal insurance law passed in 2007, which covers issues related to solvency, investments and technical research.
Ghassan Marrouche, general manager of Takaful Emarat, said the Emirates' growth potential continues to be promising and given time, could probably even reach Saudi's achievements, especially once the planned compulsory health insurance has been implemented in the UAE.
The UAE's mandatory health funding programme was supposed to be implemented early last year but has been delayed due to the global financial crisis.
"The challenge to us [in the industry] is to get people who have the right takaful experience. We rely heavily on our sister companies, Al Buhaira National Insurance and Uniqa, for their expertise. But we are now in the process of developing our own talents/staff who would have specialties such as underwriting and sales," Marrouche said.
Grabbing a slice of the $12bn global takaful market
Takaful Emarat, a UAE-based company offering shariah-compliant life and health insurance, has been optimistic about the takaful market, which professional services firm Ernst & Young forecasts to become a $12bn global industry by the end of this year.
Last month, Ernst & Young published their predictions, which noted that the worldwide takaful sector will soar by over 31 per cent this year from the $9.15bn contributions recorded in 2010. The company showed a steady northbound movement for the Islamic insurance industry as last year's figures registered over 32-per-cent hike from $6.9bn in 2009.
The Dubai bourse-listed Takaful Emarat, which reported their assets to be worth over Dh132m as of end-2010, seeks to raise their exposure to this sector as they launch a series of products aimed at addressing the needs of a growing national and expatriate clientele in the UAE.
Individual life savings schemes launched
Takaful Emarat on Sunday launched three life savings plans that can be tailor-madeto suit the customers' protection needs. These products provide coverage on education, general savings and wealth management.
According to the company's statement, the shariah-compliant 'Education Plan' enables customers to achieve their objectives towards higher education of their children through takaful protection and focused saving.
Another product, the 'Whole Life Plan' has been designed to provide protection and long-term saving opportunities to individuals. Meanwhile, the 'Wealth Plan' has been developed to serve both the short- and long-term financial needs of high-net-worth individuals in the country. The wealth plan will also allow customers to participate in a wide range of shariah-compliant funds in addition to takaful protection.