MANAMA: Islamic banking assets with commercial banks in the GCC reached $445 billion at the end of last year, up from $390bn in 2011, according to recent estimates by Ernst & Young's Global Islamic Banking Centre.
Reports indicate that in 2012, the Islamic banking industry in the GCC registered a 14 per cent year-on-year growth, which represents a slight deceleration in the average growth rate over the past five years of 19pc.
Reports also indicate that profitability now looks to be stabilising in major Islamic banking markets though Islamic banks have experienced a mixed recovery across markets.
With the global Islamic banking assets with commercial banks now surpassing the $1.5 trillion mark and estimates projecting the industry to hit $2trn by 2015, the global Islamic finance industry is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing components of the global financial system.
The Islamic banking industry is growing 50pc faster than overall banking sector in several core markets, according to Ernst & Young World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report.
The report was launched last December at the 19th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference in Bahrain.
Given the current market conditions and the increasing demand for Islamic finance not only in the traditional markets of Middle East and Southeast Asia, but globally, the time is now perfect for the Islamic finance industry to further leverage its inherent strengths of being linked to real economic activities and play a key role in putting in place a holistic Islamic economic ecosystem.
It is against this background that the third Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference (MEIFIC 2013) will be held at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Dubai on April 17.
Co-located with the eighth Annual World Takaful Conference and held under the theme "Building the Islamic Economy: Strengthening Islamic Finance's Links to the Real Economy", MEIFIC 2013 is set to gather more than 250 regional and international Islamic finance leaders in a powerful dynamic platform.
A key highlight will be the high profile keynote debate that will focus discussions on boosting growth and the value of Islamic finance by strengthening linkages to the real economy and mainstreaming products.
The session, chaired by Thomson Reuters global head for Islamic capital markets Dr Sayd Farook, and featuring Dubai government's economic adviser Harun Kapetanovic, Mashreq Al Islami chief executive Moinuddin Malim, ADCB Islamic Banking head of Islamic Banking Amr Al Menhali, and QIB-UK head of asset management Anouar Adham, will assess new growth opportunities for Islamic finance and will analyse how institutions can scale-up to better meet the needs of the real economy.