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
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: