News that HSBC is taking a majority stake in Oman International Bank confirms the growing intensity of competition in what has traditionally been one of the Gulf’s less frenetic financial markets. The government’s decision to allow the development of Islamic finance will be a further stimulus to activity.
“It is not going to be easy. We expect everyone to compete with the launch of Islamic banking. There will definitely be some pressure on interest-rate margins as all banks are eager to grow in this small yet competitive market,” BankMuscat chairman Sheikh Khalid Al-Mashani has pointed out.