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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Global Islamic finance industry worth over $1tr in asset terms

Dubai: The global Islamic finance industry is now worth more than $1 trillion (Dh3.67 trillion) in terms of assets, having quadrupled in the last three years, as it concentrates more on diversification.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, nine of the top ten Sharia-compliant financial assets by country, are based in the Middle East and Asia. The tenth is in the UK.

Despite the current economic challenges faced by countries in the region, the excess liquidity still in Gulf economies has fuelled sustained demand for Islamic finance products, according to Ahmad Al Khan, head of investment banking at Global Banking Corporation (GBCORP), based in Bahrain.

In the not-too-distant future, Islamic finance will be tapping into new sectors in order to have a much greater global presence and attract a wider audience.

"The Islamic financial institutions have become far more aware of the necessity to better diversify their asset portfolios and the growing sukuk market should help widen the range of asset classes eligible for investment. Islamic banks have also started to explore new business lines - mortgages could pave the way for more active Sharia-compliant securitisation," Al Khan said.

In line with this, GBCORP has invested in the $2.4 billion Marsa Al Seef waterfront project in Bahrain.

The development is located on 25.8 million square feet of land on the northern coast.

GBCORP appointed the Global Real Estate Development Company (GREDCO) as development managers to oversee the project.

The effect of the financial downturn on Bahraini business has been contained somewhat as institutions in the country had limited exposure to the US-driven subprime market.


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