‘You can’t be a credible financial centre without having a credible Islamic finance programme,’ says Qudeer Latif, head of Clifford Chance’s global Islamic practice. With studies expecting the Muslim population to grow twice as fast as the non-Muslim demographic over the next 20 years global financial institutions and governments are falling over themselves to offer Islamic finance products.
According to EY’s latest study of the global Islamic finance market, the total amount of Islamic assets held by commercial banks was expected to have grown by around 40% from 2011 to 2013, from $1.3trn to $1.8trn. 78% of international Islamic assets are held in Qatar, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, UAE and Turkey. In Qatar, for example, Georges Racine, director of Swiss firm Lalive’s Doha operation, says that Islamic banking has grown quicker than the banking sector as a whole over the past few years as a result of its government’s supportive measures.