UAE ‘has what it takes’ to be Islamic finance hub

By Andy Sambidge –

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The UAE has what it takes to become a hub for Islamic finance, according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the country’s vice president and prime minister.

Sheikh Mohammed, also ruler of Dubai, made his comments at a workshop organised by the higher committee for development of Islamic economy sector to follow up progress on action plans and proposed initiatives.

He said in comments published by news agency WAM: “We have a clear vision for this vital sector and we want it to contribute significantly to our national economy and ton help bolster our position as the world’s capital for Islamic economy.”

Sheikh Mohammed added that the UAE has what it takes to become a hub for Islamic economy which caters for about quarter of the world’s population.

“We have the infrastructure, the strategic location at the heart of the Islamic world and importantly, a vast knowledge and experience in Islamic economy, Islamic banking, Islamic Sukook and insurance, and we have, above all, the resolve and ambition to achieve our goals,” he said.

Last month, it was reported that Dubai was launching a drive to develop its Islamic business sector, aiming to attract fresh investment from the Middle East and south-east Asia.

The government will promote Islamic banking and insurance, Islamic financial products and other areas including the arbitration of Islamic contracts and the setting of quality standards for halal food.

Islamic finance, based on principles such as bans on interest and on pure monetary speculation, has grown rapidly around the world over the last several years, although it remains much smaller than conventional finance.

Islamic banks now command a roughly 25 percent share of the banking market in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to an estimate by Ernst & Young.

Dubai, emerging from its corporate debt crisis of 2009-2010, wants to boost growth with trade and investment from around the region. It has a history of successfully developing service industries; the Dubai International Financial Centre, opened about a decade ago, has become the Gulf’s top banking centre.