Strengthening Islamic finance’s link to real economy to provide new growth impetus for Islamic finance industry

Strengthening Islamic finance’s link to real economy to provide new growth impetus for Islamic finance industry

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The 3rd Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference (MEIFIC 2013) to gather more than 250 Islamic finance industry leaders in Dubai this April for strategic discussions on mapping a new growth path for the regional Islamic finance and investments industry.

The Ernst and Young World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report, which was launched last December at the 19th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC Global), noted that the Islamic banking industry is growing 50% faster than overall banking sector in several core markets.

With the global Islamic banking assets with commercial banks now surpassing the $1.5 trillion mark and estimates projecting the industry to hit the $2 trillion mark by 2015, the global Islamic finance industry is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing components of the global financial system. According to recent estimates by Ernst & Young’s Global Islamic Banking Centre, Islamic banking assets with commercial banks in the GCC reached $445bn at the end of 2012, up from $390bn in 2011, with the outlook for the industry remaining relatively positive in 2013.

Globally, the Islamic banking industry continues to record robust growth with industry reports indicating Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, as the top three markets for Islamic assets. Reports indicate that in 2012 the Islamic banking industry in the GCC registered a 14% year-on-year growth, which represents a slight deceleration in the average growth rate over the past 5 years of 19%. Reports also indicate that profitability now looks to be stabilizing in major Islamic banking markets though Islamic banks have experienced a mixed recovery across markets. Given the current market conditions and the increasing demand for Islamic finance not only in the traditional markets of Middle East and South East Asia, but globally, the time is now perfect for the Islamic finance industry to further leverage its inherent strengths of being linked to real economic activities and play a key role in putting in place a holistic Islamic economic ecosystem.

It is against this background that the 3rd Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference (MEIFIC 2013) will be held at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Dubai on the 17th of April 2013. Co-located with the 8th Annual World Takaful Conference (WTC 2013) and held under the theme “Building the Islamic Economy: Strengthening Islamic Finance’s Links to the Real Economy”, MEIFIC 2013 is set to gather more than 250 regional and international Islamic finance leaders in a powerful dynamic platform to explore the emerging opportunities for Islamic finance and investments in the Middle East.

MEIFIC 2013 will be opened by a special inaugural address by Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). Confirming his participation, Ahmed Bin Sulayem noted, “Islamic finance is playing an ever-increasing role in the global economic system. The substantial growth witnessed by the Islamic finance industry and its steady progress from niche to mainstream indicate a growing demand for financial products and services that are Sharia compliant. Islamic products have always been a major focus of the DMCC’s growth plan. We have built strong credentials as an Islamic trading centre, especially within the commodity trade finance sector. Our core product, DMCC Tradeflow, which operates as a web-based ownership registry, now offers Sharia compliant commodity Murabaha as well. We have identified asset-backed transactions, particularly the Islamic interbank liquidity market conducted through Murabaha mechanisms as a key growth sector. I look forward to attending MEIFIC 2013 and sharing our experience with DMCC Tradeflow and other developments within the Islamic finance industry.”

The inaugural address will be immediately followed by a special keynote address by Tayeb Abdulrahman Al Rais, Secretary General of the Awqaf & Minors Affairs Foundation in Dubai, who will discuss the role of AWQAF in supporting the Islamic economy.

A key highlight of MEIFIC 2013 will be the high profile keynote power debate that will focus discussions on boosting growth and the value of Islamic finance by further strengthening linkages to the real economy and mainstreaming products. The power debate session, chaired by Dr. Sayd Farook, Global Head Islamic Capital Markets at Thomson Reuters and featuring Harun Kapetanovic, Economic Adviser at Department of Economic Development, Government of Dubai; Moinuddin Malim, Chief Executive Officer of Mashreq Al Islami; Amr Al Menhali, EVP, Head of Islamic Banking at ADCB Islamic Banking; and Anouar Adham, Head of Asset Management at QIB – UK, will assess new growth opportunities for Islamic finance and will analyze how Islamic finance institutions can scale-up to better meet the needs of the real economy.

Commenting on their participation at the event, Amr Al Menhali, EVP, Head of Islamic Banking, ADCB Islamic Banking, said, “The Islamic finance industry is currently witnessing rapid transformation and continues to undergo significant change as the market moves from its niche status and gains a stronger foothold as an integral part of the financial system. With the rapid internationalization 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. The Middle East has been at the centre of Islamic finance activity and the region is viewed as one of the more mature markets. 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.”

“As a leading industry player, ADCB Islamic Banking is delighted to support the annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference and we look forward to discussing new growth opportunities for Islamic finance in the region,” he added.

Zulkifli Hasan
With my friends in Texas


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