It is time for the west to take a look at Islamic finance experts

It is timely for financial experts in the West to take a look at Islamic finance as an alternative in financing, says First Holder, INCEIF Chair of Islamic Finance, Prof Abbas Mirakhor. Abbas said Islamic finance stressed on risk sharing which included sharing the risk of loss. “Risk sharing means sharing risk among a few people.

Islamic finance encourages risk sharing and provides a means for people to do that. “Hence, it brings people together,” he said recently in his lecture, “Islamic Finance in A Multi polar World”, at the AIF Distinguished Speaker Series, as reported by Bernama News agency last week.

He said Malaysia has the potential strength as a global financial growth pole and has emerged as the global hub of Islamic finance.  Abbas said Malaysia could succeed as a global hub of Islamic finance based on a few factors.

Firstly, he said, it was due to the gradual process in the development of Islamic finance in the country followed by a huge government support which was still continuing. He said Islamic finance was also accepted by all Malaysians. “Islamic finance is beneficial to all Malaysians. It is not based on pure ideological but can be share with all,” he said.

Abbas said Malaysia has the capability of developing human capital for Islamic finance. It is the first mover in this field and has no competition. It can have other countries to leverage on its experience so that they can develop their own Islamic finance. “Malaysia can also serve as a knowledge industry as no other country in the world has the kind of facility that it had developed,” he said.

Barclays Bank announced on Tuesday 20 Sep that it has received approval to operate an Islamic Window in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), enabling it to base its global Islamic products team in the DIFC, and to offer Islamic financial products and services from there.

Well-established as a global leader in Islamic finance, Barclays has been active in promoting the Islamic banking sector for well over a decade.  This license endorsement, granted by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), positions the global bank to further expand, its already diverse offering, in the Sharia-compliant financial services space.

“We are extremely pleased to hold an Islamic window license from the DFSA,” said John Vitalo, Chief Executive Officer, Barclays Plc, MENA, “and we look forward to continuing to introduce innovative Shari’ah-compliant solutions from the DIFC”.

“As a long-standing international pioneer in Islamic finance, we have always recognized the importance of this industry,” Vitalo added. “Today, we are even more strongly positioned to meet the evolving needs of clients in this dynamic market – here in the UAE, throughout the MENA region, and across the world.”

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, Chief Executive Officer of the DIFC Authority, emphasized the importance of the Barclays license to the ongoing development and diversification of the emirate’s onshore financial centre and the wider regional economy.

He said: “During this period of renewed financial stability and expansion, and at a time when the Islamic finance sector continues to experience especially notable growth, we are confident that Barclays will continue to make a unique contribution to the industry by providing world-class Shari’ah-compliant solutions from the DIFC.”

“Operating from a DIFC Islamic platform will greatly enhance our ability to meet the needs of our regional and international clients seeking Shari’ah-compliant products and services,” added Dr Dominic Selwood, Head of Islamic products at Barclays. “Based on our global track record and unique local insights, we will continue to focus on providing best-in-class customised Islamic solutions.”

In recognition of its outstanding contribution to the industry, Barclays received two awards at the Islamic Finance News Awards Ceremony 2011, which took place earlier this year in Dubai.

At this high-profile event, the investment bank collected both the “Sovereign Deal of the Year Award” for participating in the Government of Malaysia’s US$1.25 billion global sukuk and the “Syndicated Deal of the Year Award” for the US$1.4 billion project financing for the Jubail Refinery.

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