Islamic finance markets set for expansion

Angela Faherty

June 17, 2006

The IFTC06, held in London, revealed the extent to which the Muslim mortgage, and general commerce market had grown and highlighted further opportunities within the UK and Muslim markets.

Sessions at the conference included obtaining Shariah compliant finance, setting up an Islamic business in the UK and creating opportunities in the UK, among others.

Speakers included the leader of the House of Commons, Jack Straw, Dr Ahmed Mohammed Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank, with the event opened by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. He said the Muslim market had grown considerably over the past few years, integrating and giving new direction to the UK market. He said: “I want to thank the Muslim Council of Britain and many who have worked with the government through our tax and regulatory reform to support the Shariah compliant finance, enabling the expansion of the mortgage market to over half a billion pounds, growing by almost 50 per cent in the last year alone. Then last year, for savings and borrowing and providing proper consumer protection for Ijara products.”

Paul White, consultant at Belgravia Consultants, said a conference focusing on Islamic finance would help the market greater understand the differences, but did not expect a huge take up of advisers. “This conference is of interest to those already in the Islamic finance market. People have already decided to be in the sector or not, so I doubt it will attract more advisers to enter it. It’s a bit like preaching to the converted.”

The growth of the sector was reflected by Lloyds TSB’s move to launch a range of Islamic financial services, allowing Muslims access to current accounts and mortgages compliant with Islamic law, which forbids the payment of interest, known as Riba.

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