Majid Al-Refai named Banker of the Year
Majid Al Sayed Bader Al-Refai, the Founder, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Unicorn Investment Bank, has been named ‘Banker of the Year’ as part of the Banker Middle East Industry Awards for 2009. The Awards are based on peer recommendations and are designed to recognise and reward excellence throughout the global Islamic finance community.
Mr. Al-Refai is considered to be one of the pioneers of Islamic finance and has been an active proponent of the industry for over 20 years. He has a wealth of experience in Islamic product development and has established several Islamic finance institutions throughout his career, including Commerce MGI Sdn Bhd in Malaysia and First Islamic Investment Bank (now renamed Arcapita) in Bahrain. In 2004, he established Unicorn Investment Bank, headquartered in Bahrain, with the backing of prominent investors from across the Gulf region. Mr. Al-Refai has previously been recognized for his ‘Life and Continuing Contribution to Islamic Finance’ and ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Industry’.
Commenting on the award, Nigel Rodrigues, Chief Executive of CPI Financial, publisher of Banker Middle East, said: “Mr. Al-Refai is well-known throughout the Islamic finance industry, and the fact that he has been voted ‘Banker of the Year’ by his peers is an indication of the esteem in which he is held. Mr. Al-Refai has dedicated his career to promoting Islamic finance and is a recognised industry pioneer, leader and innovator. It is a most deserved award.”
In accepting the award, Mr. Al-Refai referred to the challenging operating environment for financial institutions globally and pointed out that Islamic banks have been insulated somewhat by their lack of direct exposure to the toxic assets that precipitated the crisis. He emphasised that financial expansion cannot be decoupled from real economic growth in Islamic finance and urged Islamic banks to work with their conventional counterparts to build a more robust financial system.