JEDDAH – The Islamic finance industry is becoming one of the fastest growing components of the global financial system, with experts projecting growth rates of between 15 percent to 20 percent per annum.
The Middle East region, which has played a pivotal role in the development of the Islamic banking and finance industry internationally, is witnessing a rapid expansion in the market share of its Islamic financial institutions with billions of dollars moving from the conventional banking system to the Shariah model.
Ernst & Young said in The World Islamic Banking Report launched at the 18th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) in Bahrain last November, that Islamic banking assets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region increased to $416 billion in 2010, representing a five year CAGR of 20 percent compared to less than 9 percent for conventional banks. The report also said as new geographies open up to Islamic banking, the MENA Islamic banking industry is expected to more than double to $990 billion by 2015.
Against this backdrop, the 2nd Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference (MEIFIC 2012) is set on April 18 in Dusit Thani, Dubai under the theme "Room to Grow: New Directions in the Next Growth Phase for Islamic Banking in the Middle East".
Speaking to the media ahead of the event, David McLean, Chief Executive of the Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference, said "with oil prices back on the rise, increased cash-flows, liquidity and average per capita income, the major markets in the Middle East continue to be a place of significant interest for regional and international investors. The Middle East has also seen an unprecedented increase in public spending in the recent past. This denotes significant potential for the Islamic finance industry in the region as the leading Islamic financial institutions have strong balance sheets and are well positioned to fund these large-scale developmental projects at a time when the global liquidity pool is shrinking."
MEIFIC 2012 will focus on the opportunities and challenges that are forging the Islamic banking, finance and investment landscape in the region.
MEIFIC 2012 will be inaugurated by a special keynote inaugural session featuring Hussain AlQemzi, Chief Executive Officer, Noor Islamic Bank and Group Chief Executive Officer, Noor Investment Group; and Dr. Saleh Malaikah; Chairman, Rusd International Holding Group, Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Salama Group.
AlQemzi said "the global financial crisis has given the Islamic banking and finance industry a great opportunity – an opportunity to tap into the growing interest in the Shariah-compliant finance model resulting from the obvious flaws in the conventional model. This will provide a solid foundation for the future growth of the Islamic finance industry. The growth opportunities are especially strong in the Middle East as the region has been the least affected by the financial crisis."
He also said that "given the strong growth in the Middle Eastern economies combined with better regulatory reforms and secure foundations that the industry has laid in the region, Islamic finance in the Middle East is poised to enter its next growth phase. We are delighted to be supporting the 2nd Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference and we see this event as a unique platform for industry leaders to discuss the way forward for the regional Islamic banking and finance industry." – SG/QJM