MANAMA: World Bank and the International Monetary Fund experts are studying Islamic finance to see how its principles can help them rebuild the Western financial system. That was the claim by the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions secretary general Ezzedine Khoja.
He was speaking at the Third Business Symposium at the University of Bahrain yesterday which has attracted more than 700 students from the kingdom and across the GCC.
"When financial experts are trying to explain the financial crisis and find solutions for the future they are looking for a financial model that will provide comfort and they are continually seeing that the way to achieve this involves the human principles inherent in Sharia-compliant finance," he said.
"Islamic finance is now showing the West how to repair and rebuild its financial structures."
He told the students that since it was first established back in 1975, the Islamic finance industry had created more than 400 fully-fledged Islamic banks with total assets of more than $600 billion.
"We are seeing an annual growth in Islamic finance of more than 35 per cent, both from the formation of new institutions and from traditional financial institutions converting to or offering Sharia compliant finance," he said.
Opening the three-day event, which has been organised by students at the university, the leader of the Deanship of Student Affairs, Dr Osama Jodar, said that Bahrain was now the hub of Islamic finance and the symposium has specifically chosen this field for discussion because of the benefit it would bring to the students.
The head of the organising committee, Abdulla Bucheeri, said that the main purpose of the seminar was to help educate students in the role and goals of Islamic banks and finance and that a number of specialist speakers would be outlining the difference between Islamic financial institutions and traditional finance and how Islamic finance made a difference.
Gulf International Investments public relations manager Ahmed Shawqi said that the Islamic financial industry has suffered a lot less than traditional institutions in the current financial meltdown.
Khaleeji Commercial bank general manager Fuad Taqi speaking about the growth of the industry said that not only were new players coming into the industry but established Western banks like HSBC and Citibank were now offering customers Sharia-compliant services.
"Our sponsorship of this symposium shows how much we support Islamic banking and educational studies about Sharia-compliant finance," he said.
"You, the students of today, are the main assets of Islamic banking for tomorrow."