Tuesday, December 14, 2010

UK leading the world in Islamic Finance

Manama, Bahrain: Following the success of the World Islamic Banking

Conference (WIBC) in Bahrain, the UK has been praised as the leading Western

centre for Islamic finance and one of the world’s most attractive destinations for

Islamic banks.

The conference, supported by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), included an expert

panel from the UK, which led debates on the future of the sector, both in the UK

and around the world.

This panel included three members of the UK Islamic Finance Secretariat, as

well as representatives of leading advisory firms.

They spoke to a large audience of Islamic wholesale and retail bankers from

across the Gulf region and beyond, as well as advisors and other professional

service providers specialising in Islamic Finance.

The panel looked at the pitfalls and opportunities for Islamic finance in light of the

global economic downturn and opportunities for growth in the sector, with some

estimates putting its value at over US$4 trillion in the coming years.

Leading industry speakers said:

"Small corporates looking at sukuk issuance are favouring UK law - it's a safe

pair of hands. We have recently been asked to look at several issuances

particular for this reason and also due to the experience we have in the UK

working with international institutions," said Kazi Rahman, Lawyer, Wragge & Co

Richard Thomas, CEO, Gatehouse bank said, “The UK is the number one

centre for co-operation with other Islamic finance centres such as Bahrain and


“There is a great opportunity for investment and commercial banks to raise

awareness of an alternative source of finance,” said Sultan Choudhury, Director

at the Islamic Bank of Britain.

“The UK is one of the most attractive banking destinations, particularly when it

comes to Islamic finance. Rules and laws facilitate the use of Islamic products,”

said Darshan Bijur, Director of Islamic Finance Advisory, KPMG

The Panel challenged the audience to learn from UK experiences and implement

changes within their own institutions.

The UK, and especially London, has been working to move the Islamic Finance

sector from niche to mainstream over the last decade, with wide expertise and a

financial infrastructure that is uniquely placed to support Islamic banking.

In the UK there are 18 major law firms providing legal services in Islamic

Finance; Five stand-alone Sharia-compliant banks; Providers of education in

Sharia compliant finance; Five of the largest national professional services

firms with Islamic Finance teams based in London providing Sharia-complaint


The WIBC has been running for 17 years, and is the world’s largest and most

influential gathering of Islamic finance industry leaders. This year there were over

1,200 international delegates from more than 50 countries.

1. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the government department that helps UK-based

companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring

their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best

place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts

through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other

diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to

be competitive on the world stage. For more information visit: http://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/


2. The 17th Anniversary of the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) was held in

Bahrain on November 22-24, 2010. For the first time at WIBC, UK Trade & Investment

(UKTI) and the new UK Islamic Finance trade body, the UK Islamic Finance Secretariat

(UKIFS) took a joint stand at the event.

3. Images of the Conference and a video of the expert sessions can be found online at:


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