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Saturday, 1 September 2007

Islamic banks get Duke of York's praise

Responding to the needs of Muslims who want to bank in keeping with their faith is "socially and politically right", the Duke of York has told a Malaysian conference of Islamic financial experts. Andrew said the opportunities in this specialised area were enormous and that the UK and Malaysia were well placed to work together in this field. The Duke told delegates at the event in Kuala Lumpur that the global Islamic finance market was estimated at 500 billion dollars (£249 billion) - around 1% of total banking assets - but an annual growth of around 10%-15% was expected over the next few years. He added: "The growth in Islamic finance industry is being driven because Muslims, and increasingly non-Muslims, everywhere are increasingly seeking to invest their earnings, take out mortgages and insure their assets in keeping with the principles of their faith. "That applies not only in the Middle East or in a majority Muslim country like Malaysia. It also applies in the UK with our nearly two million Muslim population. "Responding to their needs and wishes is socially and politically right; it is also good business sense, if we cannot meet their needs then they will take their funds to markets that can." Speaking at the one-day forum organised by the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance, the Duke said: "I'm pleased to say British institutions can and are responding, through the Islamic Bank of Britain, which is a fully Islamic bank, also high street banks and building societies now offer Islamic products." Islamic banking has existed for centuries and has the same purpose as conventional financial institutions except it is run under Sharia rules. Its basic principle is the sharing of profit and loss and a prohibition on earning interest from funds. Andrew addressed the gathering of Islamic bankers, academics and scholars, which included Malaysia's prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in his role as the UK's Special Representative for International Trade and Development. - (TPA, 31 Aug 07)

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