Islamic finance sees "strong growth"

Islamic finance sees "strong growth"

The growth in global Islamic finance looks set to continue, with global Islamic commercial banking assets forecast to pass $2trn by 2014, according to the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF).

WIEF said the strong growth in Islamic finance over the past decade had been driven by innovations in the number and range of Islamic financial products available across the Middle East, Europe and Asia, while increased interest in Shariah-compliant banking would also support this growth.

It added that Islamic banking assets in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region are expected to surpass $130bn by end of the year.

Within the GCC, Bahrain has experienced some of the most marked growth, with Islamic financial assets rising from $1.9bn in 2000 to $26.2bn as of August 2013 and the Kingdom growing to become one of the leading international Islamic financial centres.

Kamal bin Ahmed, acting chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), which oversees the Kingdom's financial and insurance industries, said: “Islamic finance has very strong potential worldwide, as its growth in recent years has shown.

If the industry is to continue to grow, it is important that the leading international players work together, and that governments create the right platforms and regulatory frameworks for sustainable expansion.

“In Bahrain, Islamic financial institutions account for more than 13% of total assets as investors look to take advantage of opportunities within the Gulf market – an economy worth more than $1.5trn. There are enormous opportunities in markets such as the GCC or South East Asia where there are large Muslim populations, as well as in global financial centres like London.”

The EDB noted that in addition to Islamic 'windows' in conventional banking operations, the Bahrain financial sector had grown to include 24 Islamic financial institutions in the Kingdom of Bahrain, with aggregate assets under management of more than $26bn, while there were eight Islamic takaful and retakaful insurance companies in the Kingdom.

The 2013 World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) is currently taking place in London, at which a senior Bahraini delegation including Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, crown prince of Bahrain, first deputy prime minister and EDB chairman is attending.

The forum, which is being held in Europe for the first time, will discuss the future of Islamic economic cooperation, including include Islamic banking and finance, technology, infrastructure development, health, exports, and education and youth.

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