DOHA: The size of Qatar’s Shariah-compliant banking is expected to grow to over $100bn (QR365bn) by 2017.
And, given the rising global demand for interest-free financing, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will emerge as the major centres of Islamic finance in the coming years, said a press statement, yesterday, issued by ‘Europmoney Conferences’, a leading organiser of financial events.
The Europmoney also forecast that the growth will be largely driven by high demand for infrastructure and investment financing.
In particular, there is set to be strong demand from the government sector, which is increasingly working to ensure that at least a proportion of large project financing is structured in compliance with Shariah law.
“As the fastest-growing of the three markets, the balance sheet of Qatar’s Islamic banks are expected to be worth more than $100bn by 2017, according to a recent report by global credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s”, said the statement.
The Euromoney Qatar 2013 Conference, to be held here under the patronage of H E Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior, from December 10 to 11 at The Ritz-Carlton, will provide a major platform for discussion of the direction of the Islamic financial sector, and the models for cooperation and competition that will help sustain it.
Co-hosted by Qatar Central Bank (QCB), the Conference will see a major presentation on “Islamic Markets and Economic Growth”, presented by Dr Khaled Al Fakih, Secretary General and CEO of The Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), a Bahrain-based non-profit organisation.
It will be the first time that a representative of AAOIFI has addressed the Euromoney Conference, and reflects the growing global interest in Shariah-compliant financing and investing.
Qatar has one of the fastest-growing Islamic banking sectors in the world, driven by the demand for local credit to finance government infrastructure and investment projects.
This in turn is having an impact on the assets of Qatar’s Islamic banks, increasing their share of the country’s banking system. The Islamic banks’ market share in domestic credit increased from 13 percent in 2006, to 25 percent at the end of 2012, according to the S&P report.
Global interest in the Islamic financing sector was demonstrated in October 2013, when Britain announced that it would become the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that can be bought by Islamic investors. Prime Minister David Cameron said that the UK Treasury is drawing up plans to issue a £200m (QR1.17bn) Sukuk, a form of debt that complies with Islamic financial law.
The new Sharia-compliant gilt will enable Britain to become the first non-Muslim country to tap the growing pool of Islamic investments, which is set to exceed $1 trillion by 2014.