Islamic Finance

EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE

What Can Islamic Finance Teach Western Companies?

Graham Buck 27 January

gtnews's impressive back catalogue includes articles published on this site more than a decade ago, which asked whether the appeal of Islamic finance could extend beyond non-Muslims. Even though the sector was already showing steady growth at that time, with the UK developing as its first European hub, the question might still have appeared fanciful to some. The basic Shariah principle that prevents the charging of interest certainly ticked the ethical boxes, but was probably overly conservative for many outside the Middle East. However, as this week's focus on Islamic finance underlines, the financial chicanery in the West exposed by the 2008-09 financial crisis emphasised its strengths, such as full transparency. Islamic finance has also been assisted by new asset classes such as shariah-compliant exchange traded funds (ETFs), structure funds and hedge funds. Most recently, sanctions-hit Russian lenders have begun to tap the sector. Sukuk issuance, which now exceeds US$100bn annually, is estimated to be nearer US$250bn by the end of the decade. 

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