Qatar First Bank (QFB), a Shariah compliant institution, announced on 6 December that it is to launch a private banking service. The bank is also set to list its shares on the Qatar exchange in the first quarter of 2016.

QFB established in 2009 as an investment bank that concentrates its focus on Shariah compliant banking. The potential listing would be only the second new listing in Qatar since 2010.

Speaking at a press conference in Doha, Ziad Makkawi, QFB CEO, said that offering a private banking service was not a move away from its difficulties in private equity, rather the bank is "building on it".

Makkawi added, "QFB is evolving its business model from merely focusing on maximising returns for its own portfolio to a more outward client focused institution."

He also said that the banking environment in the Gulf is "challenging" and that investors in the region were behaving cautiously at a time of low oil prices and a liquidity crunch.

"The investment climate is not going to be as hot or as bullish as when oil prices were at 100 dollars a barrel. People are looking for a bit more certainty and are staying away from speculative kinds of investments," he said.

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