Over the past year, Shariah-compliant assets have grown almost 30 percent, to more than $500.5 billion, according to analysis of the industry on a global scale, published this month by The Banker magazine. The news comes as GAIM conference is about to start on Monday, 26 November 2007 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai. The Middle East’s inaugural Global Alternative Investment Management Conference was launched in this region to focus on the needs of the Gulf investment community. The three day conference will deal with key issues such as the structuring of Islamic Hedge Funds, the importance of the Middle East as a part of a Global Emerging Markets portfolio and the evolution of the regional market.
The evidence from The Banker magazine is supported by another survey by financial research giants Standard & Poor’s, which estimates that the market for Islamic financial products, which include retail banking services, mortgages, equity funds, fixed income, insurance, private equity, and derivatives, is currently worth $400 billion.
Commenting upon the findings, Ziad Makkawi, Chairman and CEO of Algebra Capital said: “The demand for Shariah compliant investing will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Shariah investing is in fact ethical investing. Most people believe that Islamic Finance is about - not charging interest, in reality it is considered with a regulatory and legal environment that aims to establish social harmony, the avoidance of usury and the proper sharing of risk. When given the choice, all things being equal regarding the costs and quality of investment opportunities, Muslim investors choose the Shariah compliant product over the conventional one”.
“In fact as the sophistication and diversity of Shariah compliant products increases we already see a cross-over where non-Muslims investors will also be targeted and offered Shariah compliant products, and this is where the biggest opportunity lies for practitioners of Shariah compliant and finance.” added Makkawi.
Meanwhile, the ‘pioneer of Islamic finance’, Eric Meyer, CEO, Shariah Capital will focus on the global demand for Shariah compliant Hedge Funds in his final day address at the conference.
“Witnessing this tremendous appetite by investors for Shariah Compliant funds, we have gathered the world’s renowned investors in Islamic Finance to share their knowledge and expertise with the delegates,” said Jeremy Butcher, Co-Event Director, IIR Middle East.
The event is expected to draw international attention and the conference’s impact has been bolstered by high level sponsorship from a number of leading organizations including Algebra Capital, Baer Capital Partners, W.P. Stewart, Gulf Investment Corporation, Argent Financial Group International, National Investments Company and Path solutions, while the official event partner is Dubai International Financial Centre.
There are also numerous networking opportunities at the conference with a Dhow Cruise on Dubai’s Creek and a Gala Welcome Dinner hosted by the Event Partner, Dubai International Financial Centre.