On the August 31st 1978 (27th Ramadan 1398) Kuwait Finance House opened its doors for its clients, which announced the launching of the Islamic banking industry in Kuwait. Later on, collective efforts led to making KFH a pioneer in Islamic banking.
After the Amiri decree that was issued during the era of the late Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah on March 23rd 1977 to establish KFH, KFH went through a 9 months establishment phase, where the management provided the bank with all Kuwaiti human and material resources to establish the bank, which allowed KFH to prepare a generation of Kuwaiti leaders, and this made KFH famous for being called Harvard of Islamic banks. The decree stipulated the establishment of KFH as a Kuwaiti shareholding company, where the government possesses 49%. The founders were the Ministry of Finance (Currently the Public Investment Authority) by 20%, Ministry of Justice 20%, and Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs 9%.
Ibrahim Al-Khamees, the first KFH employee and currently the board secretary, said that work began in the temporary office in Ahmed Al-Jaber St. then moved to Emad Commercial Center in 1983 on the same street, until the current headquarters was completely built in 1986 on an area of 1500 square meter with 945 square meters space around it. He added that KFH began with a capital of KD 10 million, and that it was a new experience for the employees to work in the field of Islamic banking that was totally new in Kuwait, which resulted in having many people who were skeptical about its success and its banking methodology in the banking field, but the will of all the employees was stronger than their doubts.
The late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah took the first step in founding KFH by issuing an Amiri decree, which reveals his keenness in supporting the concept. Al-Khamees recalls that the most challenging obstacle that KFH faced in the beginning was the lack of knowledge of Islamic transactions by the public. However, KFH managed to overcome that obstacle by arranging several Islamic forums for clients and the public, in addition to providing them with publications regarding Islamic transactions, which turned KFH into a model for Islamic banking worldwide.
The first KFH board consisted of Ahmed Al-Yasseen (Chairman and Managing Director), Mohammed Bu Hendi (Deputy Chairman), Khaled Al-Ateeqi, Abdul Hameed Al-Obaid, Abdul Mohsen Al-Tuweiresh, Ali Al-Fozan, late Fahad Al-Dabbous who was replaced by Ali Al-Modaf, Mohammed Al-Roumi, Mereikhan Saqr, Hadi Al-Huweila, and Bader Al-Mukhaizeem was appointed as first General Manager. It is worth noting that the current Amiri Diwan Councilor and Minister of Finance at the time Abdul Rahman Al-Ateeqi participated in the founding phase, in addition to the late Abdullah Al-Mutawwa who was part of the preparation committee in 1968, the Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs at that time Youssef Al-Hajji, the Minister of Commerce and Industry at that time Abdul Wahab Al-Nefeisi, and the Minister of Justice at that time Ibrahim Al-Mufarrej.
Ahmed Al-Yasseen says that KFH did not meet any challenges at that time, since Kuwaitis were in great need of Shariah compliant banking services, in addition to the official support and assistance that KFH received from the Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Sabah, who vowed to begin applying Shariah in Kuwait once it is liberated from the occupation.
First Chairman Ahmed Al-Yasseen
First General Manager Bader Al-Mukhaizeem
First Shariah Councilor Bader Abdul Basset
First Employee Ibraheem Al-Khamees
First Female Employee Iqbal Shehab
First Banking Sector Manager Mubarak Al-Noot
First External Relations Manager Adnan Al-Bahar
First counter employee Homoud Al-Harran