Picture shows an exhibition scene at a previous Halal expo

Picture shows an exhibition scene at a previous Halal expo

Islamic finance to the fore

01 September 2013

AN upcoming halal event in the region is set to open up better opportunities for regional players in the $1.8 billion Islamic finance industry, says prominent exhibitions organizer Expo Centre Sharjah.

Underscoring the galloping pace of Islamic finance, Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB), one of the leading Islamic financial institutions in the region, will support the second OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition and Congress.

Being organised under the patronage of HH Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the event will be held at Expo Centre Sharjah from December 16 to 18.

“We are proud to have Emirates Islamic Bank as Platinum Sponsors of the second OIC Halal Middle East Exhibition and Congress. Recognised as the best Islamic corporate bank in the region at the 2013 Banker Middle East Industry Awards, EIB will be a key partner in highlighting halal finance opportunities for participants,” said  Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, director-general, Expo Centre Sharjah.

The value of Shariah-compliant assets has more than doubled in the last six years alone. Global Islamic assets held by commercial banks stood at $1.3 billion in 2011, but the industry’s forecast growth of some 40 per cent over two years will see this figure rise to $1.8 billion in 2013, according to research by Ernst & Young. Eight of the UAE’s 51 banks are Shariah-compliant units, with their total assets exceeding $55 billion at the end of 2012.

However, the global Islamic finance industry is not growing at its true potential as Shariah-compliant assets account for less than 2 per cent of conventional equivalents, providing ample room for growth, industry experts point out.

“The Islamic finance industry has undergone rapid growth in recent years, but it remains an untapped market across many asset classes and geographies. We need to redefine our strategies to capitalise on these opportunities. The industry support to the second OIC Halal ME Exhibition and Congress will go a long way in creating awareness and planning innovative products to achieve that objective,” added Al Midfa.

Industry observers have also pointed out that with the debt crisis deepening in the West investors are increasingly looking to move away from a speculative financial system. And, Islamic finance’s fundamental tenets have helped boost its image as a safe haven.

The show comes at a time when the UAE Central Bank is planning to create a governance unit that will organise the activities of Shariah-compliant banks and Islamic units at commercial banks.

For its second edition, even as Halal ME will be a comprehensive sourcing point for all halal products, from food to pharmaceuticals and insurance to tourism, the Halal Congress will offer a gathering point for food producers, exporters, importers, dealers as well as scholars and experts on halal markets and standards.

A leading player in the corporate market, Emirates Islamic Bank was recognised at the 2013 Banker Middle East Industry Awards for providing practical, highly cost-effective, Shariah-compliant solutions coupled with excellent customer service, through dedicated relationship teams in six corporate centres across the UAE.

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