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Positve outlook urged despite economic downturn

MANAMA: UK Islamic finance leaders have called for a positive outlook in the coming year despite the adverse economic climate. They made their case yesterday at the 16th WIBC which is being held at the Gulf Convention and Exhibition Centre at a UK Roundtable discussion organised and hosted by UK Trade & Investment.

"I am confident that the UK as a global centre of financial activity, has the right level of expertise and a proven track record of developing UK Islamic financial products and services that can be utilised more than ever," said British Ambassador Jamie Bowden at the opening of the event.

He said that the UK had a proven record of delivering retail domestic and wholesale international Islamic financial services and products.

He said the UK had seven Sharia-compliant exchange traded funds, 18 major law firms in the field and five of the largest professional services firms with Islamic teams.

It also boasted five stand alone Sharia-compliant banks and was a major provider of education for Islamic finance.

"London is the international centre of excellence for Islamic finance," said KPMG director Darshan Bijur.

"The professional services and advisory services sector is highly developed and can help the global Islamic banking and finance centres address current challenges and position themselves for the future."

"Liquidity problems exist in both the short and long term maturities, but when it comes to pricing, Islamic finance is price competitive when compared to conventional finance, and is well regarded as an alternative form of financing," Bank of London and the Middle East chief executive Humphrey Percy said.

"The establishment of other financial centres of excellence in Islamic finance and also other successful Islamic banks should be encouraged. "We welcome that. We have built bridges to the Gulf and to South East Asia. As a whole we want to grow the industry and we are happy to work with these centres and strengthen our partnerships to continue that progress."

"The development of financial instruments in conventional terms has cost the consumer, and the perception that pricing in Islamic finance products is higher is wrong products need to be structured well, with care of due diligence and detail, often that is not in place with conventional instruments and now the costs are being borne by the public," said Gatehouse Bank chief executive Richard Thomas.



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