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Euro zone's first Islamic bank opens in Germany's financial capital Frankfurt

Germany's financial capital Frankfurt saw its first Islamic bank open on Tuesday (July 21), making Turkey-based bank Kuveyt the first such institution in the euro zone.

"We hope that we will be able to cater to the requirements of about four to five million Muslims residing here in Germany," said Hamad Abdulmohsen al-Marzouq, the chairman of the supervisory board of Kuwait Finance House Group, the chief partner of Turkish bank Kuveyt.

According to al-Marzouq, the bank is "open not only to Muslims but to customers of all religions because we believe that the form of banking we are introducing is also attractive to all kinds of customers."

Asked to describe Kuveyt bank's activities which make it different from non-Islamic banks, al-Marzouq said "it is basically not based on fixed interest. It is based on profit-sharing."

"That makes the bank really less vulnerable to shocks. It's a profit-sharing principle rather than fixed interest principle."

The chairman of Kuveyt bank's management board, Kemal Ozan, said another difference to Frankfurt's many other banks was that "we do not invest in sectors such as pornography, the alcohol or tobacco industry. We don't want to give any loans for such investments. Such investments won't be financed by us."

While Kuveyt Turk is aiming to attract customers from the roughly 4 million people in Europe's second-largest Muslim community, many of them of Turkish origin, it also sees potential demand among non-Muslims who distrust conventional banking after the global financial crisis.

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