The Central Bank of Oman (CBO) will issue the final draft of the guidelines for Islamic banking in the first quarter of 2013, according to executive president H E Hamood Sangour al Zadjali.
Speaking to Muscat Daily on the sidelines of the opening of the Standard Chartered branch in Qurm on Saturday, H E Zadjali said, We have already circulated the draft guidelines to the banks and have told them to start work on the guidelines to prepare themselves for the roll out of the Islamic banking business. We will keep the directives almost in the same format and see how the banks function. And we will issue the final rulebook in the first quarter of 2013.
Hinting that there would be no major differences between the draft and final guidelines, H E Zadjali said that Islamic windows of existing local banks and the two new Islamic banks - Bank Nizwa and alizz islamic bank - would be able to start operations by 2013. 
He said, Bank Nizwa is set for a soft opening on December 23, 2012. The Islamic banking windows are almost ready and could start their operations by the end of 2012. alizz islamic will probably need three to six months to finalise its preparations.
When asked whether the central bank would allow foreign banks to start Islamic banking services in the sultanate, t he CBO chief said, There was some interest shown by international investors, but we will have to see how the two new banks and windows perform. Then based on the market size and favourable factors, we will decide whether to add more banks and products, H E Zadjali added.