LONDON: Bahrain and the UK yesterday agreed a joint framework to enhance collaboration on Islamic finance at the UK-Bahrain Islamic Finance Summit held in London.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed by Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Central Bank of Bahrain Governor Rasheed Al Maraj set out plans to boost co-operation through an education and skills programme and the establishment of a working group devoted to the development of Islamic finance-driven trade and investment between the two countries.
Islamic finance is currently growing 50 per cent faster than conventional banking and is worth £1.3 trillion ($2.2trn) globally reaching an expanding market of over two billion people.
It accounts for over 25pc of banking in the Gulf.
Over the last six months, the UK has successfully hosted two major Islamic finance events - the World Islamic Economic Forum and the Global Islamic Finance and Investment Conference.
"I am delighted to host today's UK-Bahrain Islamic Finance Summit," Baroness Warsi said.
"It is an honour to welcome so many prominent experts from both countries at this first bilateral Islamic Finance sovereign summit of its kind in the UK.
"As a leading global financial centre, the UK has a great track record on Islamic Finance.
"We have more than 20 institutions offering Islamic finance and six wholly Sharia-compliant banks.
"We also have over 12 universities offering related specialist courses and qualifications," she added.
"This year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of UK-Bahrain relations.
"As well as the close and longstanding relationship enjoyed by our two countries, Bahrain is considered an established innovator in Islamic finance.
"It issued the first international sovereign sukuk in 2001, which drove the GCC Islamic capital market.
"And with the largest concentration of Islamic finance institutions in the region, Bahrain is one of the pre-eminent Islamic finance centres in the Gulf," she said.
"We have much to share about how to grow the industry successfully.
"To underscore this ambition, a MoU was signed at the summit, which gives the UK and Bahrain a strong framework on which to develop our ongoing collaboration," she added.
"Today marks an important day in the long history of Bahrain-UK relations as the two countries will be extending significant co-operation to each other to promote Islamic banking and finance," Mr Al Maraj said.
"A joint committee has been formed for this purpose and an MoU has been signed.
"Both the UK and Bahrain have their strengths in Islamic finance education, training and practice, and their co-operation will open new opportunities for the Islamic finance industry." he added.
(Gulf Daily News / 10 April 2014)---
Alfalah Consulting - Kuala Lumpur: www.alfalahconsulting.com
Islamic Investment Malaysia: www.islamic-invest-malaysia.com