DEAD SEA — The Chief Executive Officer of Tamweel yesterday addressed the 2007 Middle East meeting of the World Economic Forum. In a panel discussion titled, 'Islamic Finance: Going Mainstream,' Adel Al Shirawi outlined the regional and global prospects for Islamic finance, and also examined the growth of Shariah-compliant home finance in the Middle East.
"Here in the Middle East and across the world, the outlook for Islamic finance has never been brighter," Al Shirawi said just ahead of the event. "Globally, the sector has witnessed annual growth of 10 per cent over the past decade, and demand for Shariah-compliant financial services is increasing at both the retail and institutional level. Consider that in the Gulf, the region Tamweel calls home, Islamic banks now claim an impressive 17 per cent market share."
He continued: "Islamic finance is a nascent industry, launched in its modern form in the mid-1970s. But its rise has been truly meteoric: from just one in 1975, there are now more than 300 Shariah-compliant financial services firms, and assets in the sector now stand in excess of US$500 billion."
He added: "At Tamweel, we are committed to Shariah-compliant practices and also to the goal of growing the economy of the wider region by offering innovative home finance solutions. Recently, for example, the firm approved the issuance of US$800 million worth of both convertible and non-convertible sukuk, or Islamic bonds, which will help fuel our organic growth. This is another sign of the exciting future direction of Islamic finance — and of Tamweel."
He concluded: "The World Economic Forum on the Middle East is a signal opportunity to communicate the strength of Islamic finance to an audience of high-level international decision-makers, some of whom may not be very familiar with Shariah-compliant financial services. In such a context, it is especially vital to demonstrate that Islamic finance is efficient, flexible and cost-effective. Today, there is now an incredibly broad range of Shariah-compliant financial solutions, such as mezzanine financing or, in the case of Tamweel, adjustable repayment mortgages such as 'Yusr'. As the title of this panel discussion indicates, Islamic finance is now truly mainstream."