Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank plans to expand in North Africa as the lender controlled by the emirate’s ruling family seeks to access more-populous markets, reports Bloomberg.

Tirad Mahmoud, CEO of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, said that the bank applied for licenses in Algeria and Libya and is considering Tunisia and Morocco. Interest in Shariah-compliant banking has increased since 2011, when revolts in North Africa catapulted Islamists to power.

Mahmoud said: "We are seeking to expand in nations with "a critical mass in terms of population and economic activity.

"The bank wants to be better placed to serve companies, such as Dubai-based mall operator Majid Al Futtaim, which operate across the Middle East and North Africa and rely on global lenders such as HSBC Holdings and Citigroup," he said.

Mahmoud added: Lenders are pursuing new markets as populations of about 8.3 million in the United Arab Emirates and 1.9 million in Qatar limit domestic growth opportunities. Since 2008, Abu Dhabi Islamic has moved into countries including Saudi Arabia, home to about 28 million people, Egypt, whose population exceeds 80 million, and Sudan.

"Regional companies, when they choose their banks, choose those that are present in all their key markets and they give them regional mandates in working capital management, trade, and foreign-exchange flows," he said.