Islamic finance industry set for ‘a big leap’ in Oman

MUSCAT: Oman’s First Islamic Finance and Banking Conference opened yesterday with a call to stake holders to take effective steps in promoting Islamic finance in their countries.

Speaking as the chief guest, Darwish bin Ismail bin Ali Al Balushi, minister responsible for financial affairs, said, “with an annual growth of 20 per cent and total assets worth a trillion US dollars the Islamic finance industry is poised for a leap in the coming years and time is opportune to lend it a push.

He said that a study conducted in Oman revealed that 85 per cent of people favoured buying Islamic products and 70 per cent would opt for deposits in Islamic savings account whenever they are made available. This suggests the volume of interest shown by people in Oman in pursuing Islamic finance.”

The conference is organised by Al Iktissad Wal Amal Group (Lebanon) in association with the Central Bank of Oman.Delivering a key-note address, Dr Ahmed Mohamed Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), said that the conference provides a good opportunity for business leaders and decision-makers from different countries to interact and offer effective solutions to some challenges facing the Islamic finance industry.

He pointed out that major international agencies — Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s — have given IDB the highest ‘AAA’ credit rating. He said that the IDB had provided total finances of more than $800 billion towards short-term and long-term projects in member countries since its establishment in 1975.

Dr Ahmed said, “The Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Investments and Export Credits (ICIEC) was formed with the objective to enlarge the scope of trade transactions and investment flows among the member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC);

Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) was established to complement IDB through the development and promotion of the private sector, as a vehicle for economic growth and development in member countries while the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI).

IRTI was established to help the Bank in discharging its functions in the fields of research and training assigned to it by its Articles of Agreement.” Mohammed Jamil Berro, chief executive officer, Al Hilal Bank, focused on Islamic banking growth by international expansion.

He said, “Al Hilal Bank has 28 branches in the UAE and its revenue crossed Dh1.73 million.” The bank has around 50,000 customers. With 10 per cent Muslim GDP and only one per cent global Islamic assets penetration, the global Islamic finance presents significant growth opportunities.”

Abdel Kader Askalan, CEO, Oman Arab Bank, said, “A central authority on Islamic Finance has to be established under OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) to develop regulatory legislation. Islamic finance has achieved remarkable growth in the past few years in the GCC region with 450 institutions worldwide of which 40 per cent are based in the Arab region.”

“GCC alone takes two-third of the world assets worth $ 700 billion. Islamic finace should be ready to face requirements of globalisations.”

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