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Islamic banking sector flourishes in ME
By William Faria April 19, 2013
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DUBAI: The Islamic banking and finance industry in the Middle East, especially in the UAE is witnessing stupendous growth, the just concluded 3rd Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference noted.

The conference also revealed that the Middle East has been at the centre of Islamic finance activity and the region is viewed as one of the more mature markets.

Speaking to The Gulf Today, Dr Sayd Farook, Global Head Islamic Capital Markets at Thomson Reuters mentioned that the Islamic finance industry actually has immense potential to capitalise on the value that could be generated by identifying the full value chain in areas such as Halal food processing through a structured and well executed strategy.

He further went on to say that besides Dubai and the UAE being the birthplace of contemporary Islamic finance the country has already occupied an enviable position when it comes to the development of the Islamic economy and its multiple sectors.

Dr Farook said that Dubai is in a leading position to capitalise on its existing strengths as the third most popular travel destination for global Muslims, one of the top three primary sukuk issuance sources and immense logistical influence over the halal food processing and logistics market via DP World that commands 60 cargo terminals across six continents.

Market maturity


Speakers at the event noted that the Middle East has been at the centre of Islamic finance activity and the region is viewed as one of the more mature markets.

They said that with a young, fast-growing population; robust macroeconomic factors and the boost in government spending and large infrastructure projects, major economies in the region, particularly the UAE, are witnessing promising signs of economic growth and it is now time for the region to further grow their Islamic finance capabilities.

In addition to developing sophisticated products, improving distribution channels, which would certainly assist in increasing the market share of Islamic finance, the real opportunity is to create an integrated Islamic economic system by further strengthening the linkage of Islamic finance to real economic activities.

Statistics indicate that the global Islamic banking growth story continues to be positive, with some key markets of the GCC growing 50 per cent faster than the overall banking sector.

It was also revealed that the global Islamic banking assets are forecast to grow beyond the milestone of $2 trillion by 2014.

With the rapid internationalisation of Islamic finance and new jurisdictions - even non-Islamic, now embracing Islamic finance, the industry is experiencing even stronger growth momentum, especially given the increasing awareness of Islamic finance and its benefits of being more closely linked to real economic activities.

Following the Arab Spring, it is noted that the UAE, is witnessing promising signs of economic growth and it is now time for the region to further grow their Islamic finance capabilities, said the speakers.

The annual conference held in Dubai attracted over 250 leaders in the international and regional Islamic banking and finance industry engaged in critical discussions that focused on building the Islamic economy and strengthening Islamic finance’s links to the real economy.

The participants also discussed the role of AWQAF in supporting the Islamic economy and how AWQAF and Islamic finance can play a key role in overall economic and social development.

Tayeb Abdulrahman Al Rais, Secretary General of the Awqaf & Minors Affairs Foundation noted that “historically, Awqaf has played an important role in achieving the goals of the community. Whether it is driving economic development through the establishment of education facilities; catering to the needs of students and teachers; taking care of orphans and the sick; or launching other welfare initiatives.

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