This paper will discuss the development of Islamic banking in the GCC as a concrete industry – and not as a concept – by looking at business practices from a practitioner’s point of view. It will start by setting the context of the emergence of Islamic banking in the GCC. Through a brief case study, it will then describe the broad lines of the development of the DMI Group – the first Islamic financial company created in the MENA region that was not government-funded – from its establishment by HRH Prince Mohammed al Faisal to the corporate shift initiated at the turn of the century and finally to its eventual demise in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. The last part of the article will try to understand the mismatches between business practices and market expectations that could explain the DMI Group’s downfall, and their relevance to the development of the Islamic banking industry.
Keywords : Islamic banking, Islamic finance, GCC, Ithmaar Bank, corporate governance