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Islamic finance in focus at Halal World Expo

Abu Dhabi, November 1, 2008

This year's Halal World Expo will feature three seminars on Shari'ah compliant banking and financial services, the organisers of the event have said.

The expo, GCC's leading event dedicated to the global Halal industry, takes place from November 11 to 13, 2008 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and is organised by IIR Middle East.

Abrar Mir, managing partner of NBD Capital in the UAE, will speak on day one of the event to discuss 'Raising awareness about Islamic banking and finance among the public as well as in the industry'.

His presentation will touch on subjects such as the growth of Islamic finance, how it can benefit Islamic industries and add value to businesses, plus its role in the halal industry.

Mir's seminar will be followed by Emad El Sahhar, chief operating officer of RAK Bank in Dubai, who will discuss 'Restructuring The Consumer Lending Market'.

This will cover issues such as the need to restructure the consumer lending market, values in Islamic banking and a money and values analysis.

Javed Abbasi, principal consultant at Gisba Group in Saudi Arabia, will conclude the sessions with his wisdom on selecting and rating Islamic financial products.

His seminar will touch on topics such as criteria to benchmark Islamic products, questions to ask when selecting products and the top five halal financial product offerings.

Christine Weaver, exhibition director for Halal World Expo, said the talks, which will be followed by a panel discussion, would undoubtedly arouse great interest among what is set to be a huge Halal-buying audience at the event.

She said: 'Potential investors and customers for products and services in the Islamic finance sector will find these seminars extremely useful. The Shari'ah compliant financial services sector is worth between $200 and $500 billion annually and is of growing interest for world financial markets.

'Furthermore, according to a recent survey only between five and 10 per cent of Halal businesses use Shari’ah compliant financial services and therefore this presents extensive opportunities for banks, law firms, service providers and financial institutions involved within the Islamic Finance arena.'

The Islamic finance sector is valued at approximately $1 trillion worldwide and has been growing 20 per cent annually, with more than 300 financial institutions worldwide.

The growth of Shari'ah banking has been fuelled by an increasing emphasis on Islamic values and money from wealthy Middle East oil exporters keen to find assets that conform to Islam’s teachings. 

It is expected to enjoy even greater longer-term growth given that Muslims comprise almost a fifth of the world’s population.

The global credit crisis presents this lucrative industry with an opportunity to expand its appeal beyond Muslim investors and it remains virtually unscathed unlike conventional banks nursing catastrophic losses.

The main principle of Islamic finance is that all forms of interest are forbidden and wealth should be generated only through lawful trade and investments in assets.  Investment in companies involved in activities and services that are frowned upon by Islam, such as tobacco, gambling, alcohol and pornography, is strictly prohibited.

The Islamic financial model works on the basis of risk sharing. The customer and the bank share the risk of any investment on agreed terms, and divide any profits between them. 

Halal World Expo is being billed as much more than just an exhibition. Organisers IIR Middle East are emphasising that it will provide a business platform catering to the needs of the global halal producers, traders and business leaders.

In addition, it will focus on halal lifestyle products, including Islamic fashion, cosmetics and other health care products, for which<


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