Al Hilal Bank, a UAE-based bank, has obtained banking license from The Financial Markets Authority in the Republic of Kazakhstan, to operate under the name 'Al-Hilal Islamic Bank' in Kazakhstan.

The new bank is fully owned by Al Hilal Bank with a capital of $36m. The main headquarters will be established in the city of Almaty with a second branch in Astana.

Earlier, the UAE and Kazakhstan governments signed an agreement to launch Al Hilal Islamic Bank in Kazakhstan in June 2009.

Ahmed Ateeq Al Mazrouei, chairman of Al Hilal Bank said that the official inauguration of the headquarters and the branch in Astana would start operations on the March 25, 2010, in addition the bank also aims to open two new branches by the end of 2010. He also said that the bank will provide its services to citizens and institutions of the Republic of Kazakhstan and will support investments and projects of UAE, the Gulf and Arab expatriates residing in Kazakhstan.

Furthermore, Mr AL Mazrouei has added that Al Hilal Bank is currently examining other markets and carefully analyzing other areas for potential expansion to ensure that the targets sought by the bank will be achieved while maintaining the high quality of services.

Mr AL Mazrouei stated that the market in Kazakhstan is promising and the country has a great deal of expected projects that will be announced in the days ahead, especially in the oil, gas and infrastructure sectors, and it is expected that the bank will participate in financing.

Al Hilal Bank is fully owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, which is the investment authority of the Government of Abu Dhabi.