Islamic finance in focus at Abu Dhabi event – Billion dollar sector to be discussed during forum at Halal World Expo

dedicated forum at next month’s Halal World Expo is throwing the
spotlight on the billion dollar Islamic finance sector in a move which
will be of great interest to UAE businesses and potential investors.

The GCC’s leading event dedicated to the global Halal industry,
which takes place from 11-13 November 2008 at the Abu Dhabi National
Exhibition Centre, organised by IIR Middle East, is set to feature
three illuminating seminars on Shari’ah compliant banking and financial

Abrar Mir, Managing Partner of NBD Capital in the UAE, will speak on
day one of the event to discuss ‘Raising awareness about Islamic
banking and finance among the public as well as in the industry’.  His
presentation will touch on subjects such as the growth of Islamic
finance, how it can benefit Islamic industries and add value to
businesses, plus its role in the halal industry.

Mir’s seminar will be followed by Emad El Sahhar, Chief Operating
Officer of RAK Bank in Dubai, who will discuss ‘Restructuring The
Consumer Lending Market’.  This will cover issues such as the need to
restructure the consumer lending market, values in Islamic banking and
a money and values analysis.

Javed Abbasi, Principal Consultant at GISBA Group in Saudi Arabia,
will conclude the sessions with his wisdom on selecting and rating
Islamic financial products.  His seminar will touch on topics such as
criteria to benchmark Islamic products, questions to ask when selecting
products and the top five halal financial product offerings.

Christine Weaver, Exhibition Director for Halal World Expo, said the
talks, which will be followed by a panel discussion, would undoubtedly
arouse great interest among what is set to be a huge Halal-buying
audience at the event.

She said: “Potential investors and customers for products and
services in the Islamic finance sector will find these seminars
extremely useful.  The Shari’ah compliant financial services sector is
worth between US$200 and $500 billion annually and is of growing
interest for world financial markets.

“Furthermore, according to a recent survey only between five and 10
per cent of Halal businesses use Shari’ah compliant financial services
and therefore this presents extensive opportunities for banks, law
firms, service providers and financial institutions involved within the
Islamic Finance arena.”

The Islamic finance sector is valued at approximately $1 trillion
worldwide and has been growing 20 per cent annually, with more than 300
financial institutions worldwide.  The growth of Shari’ah banking has
been fuelled by an increasing emphasis on Islamic values and money from
wealthy Middle East oil exporters keen to find assets that conform to
Islam’s teachings.

It is expected to enjoy even greater longer-term growth given that
Muslims comprise almost a fifth of the world’s population.  The global
credit crisis presents this lucrative industry with an opportunity to
expand its appeal beyond Muslim investors and it remains virtually
unscathed unlike conventional banks nursing catastrophic losses.

The main principle of Islamic finance is that all forms of interest
are forbidden and wealth should be generated only through lawful trade
and investments in assets.  Investment in companies involved in
activities and services that are frowned upon by Islam, such as
tobacco, gambling, alcohol and pornography, is strictly prohibited.

The Islamic financial model works on the basis of risk sharing.  
The customer and the bank share the risk of any investment on agreed
terms, and divide any profits between them.

Halal World Expo is being billed as much more than just an
exhibition.  Organisers IIR Middle East are emphasising that it will
provide a business platform catering to the needs of the global halal
producers, traders and business leaders.

In addition, it will focus on halal lifestyle products, including
Islamic fashion, cosmetics and other health care products, for which
there is a growing demand in the UAE and other parts of the Middle East.

More information on Halal World Expo can be found at