Today, the UK will host the World Islamic Economic Forum. Delegations from more than 115 countries, including Oman will attend the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum – the first time it has been held outside the Muslim world.
Oman now has two Islamic banks and plans have been announced by three companies to launch takaful products. The Central Bank moved with impressive speed to establish the regulatory framework to enable the Islamic financial industry to take off in the Sultanate. It was a great privilege that the Lord Mayor of the City of London was the first senior visitor to Bank Nizwa after it opened for business in January and symbolic of the ties that have already been established between the Islamic finance industries of the Sultanate and the UK.
For me, WIEF London encapsulates the emergence of new economic ties between nations, religions and cultures . Some want investments that are managed in accordance with their faith. Others are, in the wake of the financial crisis, drawn by principles of balance, shared risk, fairness and transparency. While others still are attracted by the sheer potential of an industry worth around $1.85 trillion globally with growth rates of up to 15% per year. Whatever the draw, the buzz around Islamic and ethical finance continues to grow louder and stronger.
The UK, already home to the world’s financial and legal capital, is an increasingly important global player in Islamic Finance and its status, reach and competitive market makes the service it is able to offer truly unique.
Our expertise in Islamic Finance, where we have a growing number of banks, law firms and other service providers with a wealth of experience, is highly developed, and supported by an internationally renowned legal system and regulatory framework; a time-zone that is advantageous to doing businesses in the East and in the West; and thriving and cutting edge sectors as diverse as healthcare, education and smart cities.
As delegates will see this week, the UK is open for business and has the experience, the skills, the innovation, and the connections to overcome the challenges of the global, 24 hour market and make the most of every economic opportunity. It’s why we are rightly seen as a partner of choice and why this week’s WIEF will cement Britain’s position asthe leading Western country for Islamic finance.
Jamie Bowden British Ambassador