Al Hilal Bank is establishing its first operation outside the UAE . In March Kazakhstan’s Financial Markets Authority granted it an official licence to open the first Islamic bank in the country. The main headquarters are being established in the city of Almaty with a second branch in Astana, the capital. With a population of nearly 16 million, Kazakhstan possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring both livestock and grain. Its GDP is around $184.3bn.