ruya aims to offer 'frictionless' digital banking and build a client base around 'ethical consumerism'. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An Islamic digital-only bank will come into being in the UAE, with ‘ruya’ to be headquartered in Ajman. It joins a handful of other digital-only banks that have launches services and taking on market share in the UAE’s financial services space. These include Wio and Al Maryah Community Bank (Mbank UAE).

The new entity, ruya (which means vision in Arabic), will position itself as a ‘digital-native Islamic community bank’. It has already received the license to operate from the UAE regulator.

“Choosing Ajman as our base from where we serve the whole UAE reflects our commitment to supporting vibrant and evolving communities,” said Naser Mohamed Almur Al Zaabi, Chairman. “ruya embodies our values of ethical investment and social responsibility and we are confident it will have a positive impact on the UAE’s financial landscape.”

Launching a digital bank operating on Islamic principles makes sense, given that a client base exists looking at alternate financial services.

In its pitch, ruya states that the global Islamic finance industry continues to grow in size and forecast to hit the Dh24.5 trillion mark by 2027.

“The UAE is the world’s fourth largest Islamic finance market with Islamic banking assets representing 23 per cent of the total’ assets held in the sector,” the new entity added, citing UAE Central Bank data. “ruya will offer a frictionless digital banking experience, built on strong security and intuitive design,” the statement added.

Last year, the Higher Sharia Authority has issued ‘guidance’ for sustainability at Islamic financial institutions in the UAE. “This coincides with a trend towards more ethical consumerism resulting in a higher appeal for Islamic banking products,” ruya added in the statement.

“Consumers across generations are seeking out brands that satisfy the needs of their fast-paced life and are looking to partner with banks that are easily accessible and can complement a lifestyle that is driven by increased mobility.”

“ruya is not just another bank,” said Marwan Obaid Al Muheiri, Vice-Chairman. “We are a new style of Islamic bank, catering to the growing demand for more ethical, convenient and digital-first banking solutions, particularly among younger customers.

“Our user-friendly app will be paired with open-door branches that will serve as educational and collaborative community centres, fostering financial literacy and inclusivity.”

ruya’s ‘community centres’ (or bank branches) are to be designed as ‘open house forums’, encouraging ‘informal interactions’ between customers and bankers.

“Each branch is led by a dedicated community manager, whose primary role is to facilitate ruya’s engagement with the local community at large,” the statement added.