Defining the growth drivers for Islamic Finance in Europe

Published June 11th, 2008 - 11:19 GMT

Defining the growth drivers for Islamic Finance in Europe
UK Treasury Minister and Gulf Keynote Speakers to address international delegates at London conference

Kitty Ussher, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury, HE Rasheed M. Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive Officer of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, and Andrew Cahn, Chief Executive Officer of UK Trade & Investment, have been confirmed as Keynote Speakers to lead the Opening Plenary Session at the 1st Annual World Islamic Banking Conference: European Summit (Euro WIBC 2008), which will be held at The Park Lane Sheraton in London on the 8th of July 2008.

With all signs now indicating exciting growth potential for Islamic finance in Europe, Euro WIBC could not come at a more opportune time as the industry stands on the threshold of significant expansion.
UK Economic Secretary and City Minister Kitty Ussher MP, has just announced the Government's response to the consultation on a sterling Sukuk issuance saying the government favored a 'bill-like' Sukuk programme which could be fully integrated with the conventional Treasury bill programme. Speaking after chairing a meeting of the UK’s Islamic Finance Experts Group, Kitty Ussher emphasised the importance of the Islamic Finance sector to the city and the government’s commitment to its growth:
”The Government is determined to maintain its momentum on work on Islamic finance and to make clear to stakeholders its commitment to this industry. As such, we want to reiterate our aim to publish a paper detailing the UK strategy on Islamic finance by the end of 2008. This paper would clarify the role of the Government in the development of this sector and importantly, the steps that industry will need to take to ensure that Islamic finance becomes one of the UK's success stories."
Britain has already licensed 5 Islamic banks, with Gatehouse Bank being the most recent; while other key European financial centers continue to develop opportunities for Islamic finance, including exciting initiatives in Germany, France, Italy and Belgium. One of the speakers at the conference Baron Junaid Abbas Bhatti, an expert in Islamic Finance and head of Ballencrieff House, noted that mainstream acceptance of Islamic finance will increase as consumer desire for ethical product options increases:
“Within five years time I can foresee Islamic Finance within Europe being marketed almost exclusively on its ethical merits. Holding an event of the magnitude of Euro WIBC in London clearly demonstrates that Europe is the most exciting growth market for Islamic financial services right now.”
Baron Bhatti will lead a discussion on the country focus session which will explore specific opportunities in key European Financial markets.
The participation of HE Rasheed M. Al Maraj and Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa as Keynote speakers will also provide an opportunity to harness Bahrain’s expertise as a global hub for the Islamic banking and finance industry and there is much that can be learned from its world-class regulatory framework.
The event has the support of major industry players including Bahrain Economic Development Board, UK Trade & Investment, Ernst & Young, InfrasoftTech, CALYX, Al Rajhi Financial Services Co, ITS, Trowers & Hamlins, Moody’s Investors Services, UPS, Global Securities House, Locate in Birmingham,  DDCAP, Bank of London and the Middle East, Path Solutions, Standard & Poor’s, International Financial Services, Securities & Investment Institute, and Advantage West Midland.

More than 400 international delegates are expected to attend the inaugural Euro WIBC in London on the 8th of July 2008.


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