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Written by Githua Kihara and Beatrice Gachenge   


Gulf African Bank banking hall
September 1, 2008:

Gulf African Bank, the first fully Sharia compliant bank in Kenya, has launched  a savings accounts for Muslim pilgrims.

The product called Hajj savings account targets faithful going to fulfil one of the pillars of the religion, a once in a lifetime visit to Mecca.

The Hajj investment scheme will grow through earnings from savings. This year’s Hajj will take place in the first week of December.

Account holders will enjoy an array of benefits such as pre- travel information sessions, but they have to declare their pilgrimage intentions 45 days in advance.

The bank’s head of liabilities and branch expansion, Walid Khalid, said account holders will also get special fares through Qatar Airways and a stop over in Doha, the airline’s base.

“The partnership with Qatar will provide our clients with a convenient way to save and travel to Mecca,” said Najmul Hassan, the chief executive officer, GAB. The airline operates five flights to Jeddah via Doha.

The banking sector in the country now recognises the need for products that cater for those who subscribe to the Islamic faith, with several conventional banks introducing Sharia compliant products.  Mr Hassan said the bank would also introduce a women’s (Annisaa)  savings accounts  and children’s accounts.

The Sharia compliant banks are targeting six million members of the Muslim community in Kenya.

GAB plans to add to its five branches with a new outlet in Garissa in North Eastern province before October.


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