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Monday, 3 September 2007

Islamic finance vital for economic growth - Bahrain

(MENAFN - Bahrain Tribune, 2 Sep 07) The Islamic finance has emerged as one of the vital pillars of the global economic system. The growth and development of the Islamic market with an estimated size of between $500 billion and $1.3 trillion is posing serious challenges including the development of human capital, products and services to cater to the needs of the global consumer base. The major challenges and opportunities being faced by the Islamic banking industry and financial institutions were in the spot light at a global forum organised by the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) in Malaysia which was attended by over 100 experts, academicians and bankers. Bahrain was represented by two a group of experts including Professor Dr Hameeda J Abo Hussain, Dean College of Business Administration at the University of Bahrain and Professor Dr Kathryn Bindon, President Royal University for Women Bahrain. Bahrain being the most prominent Islamic banking centre is working very closely with other promising markets like Malaysia how to help the Islamic Financial Institutions (IFIs) by providing them the rules, regulations and unified Sharia'h standards. The Central Bank of Bahrain has successfully implemented the best regulatory regime to facilitate the Islamic Financial Institutions in addition to the Islamic insurance industry or Takaful business. Dr Kathryn Bindon in her paper 'Empowerment of women in Islamic societies in the perspective of the Future of Islamic Finance' highlighted the salient features of the human capital as a challenge. Dr Hameeda Abu Hussain shared the Bahrain's experience in Islamic finance and how the Kingdom perceived this industry a vital and an important segment of its banking system many years ago.The size of Islamic banks is another vital issue for the industry to look into seriously and may be the IFIs need to join hands to enhance the base of these institutions to work side by side of the conventional banking industry.The areas of transparency, standardised shariah principles and a common approach towards other issues can facilitate in streamlining the existing business model of this industry.Professor Dr Malik Muhammed Al Awan Chairman of the forum in his message said that Islamic Finance has emerged as a viable new alternative to conventional finance and is facing uncertainty and volatility in an unstable political and economic environment."Global finance is growing at a rapid pace. It is affecting lives of millions of people in a positive way. However, the world is also witnessing many areas of conflict and the concern for the long-term stability of the world ecosystem is growing. It is in this context that the economic and financial alternatives offered by Islam are having a positive impact," he said.He added: "While the attention of the world is focused on terrorism and many regional conflicts, Islam is going through a period of renaissance in its application to the world of commerce and finance. This offers a promising future for the cooperation among competing civilisations.Islamic Finance is one of the fastest growing industries in the world today. With over 300 financial institutions including banks, insurance companies, private equity, and mutual funds operating in over 55 countries, new avenues of financial leadership are emerging."Bahrain International Insurance Centre (BIIC), a vital part of the $1.4 billion Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) is set to become the Middle East's first integrated insurance centre.

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