Kingdom gets recognition as one of most developed Islamic markets

CEO session in progress on how to advance Saudi Arabia’s progress in the Islamic investment landscape on a global scale.

CEO session in progress on how to advance Saudi Arabia’s progress in the Islamic investment landscape on a global scale.

Acknowledged as one of the most developed Islamic markets, Saudi Arabia is a destination that should not be overlooked, according to Islamic Finance News (IFN) Forum that kicked-off here on Monday.

Participants said they were keen to see growing interest in Islamic finance in the world, especially Asia, Europe and even Africa. According to them, lack of awareness and enough human capital with skills are among the big challenges that Islamic finance faces today.

In this context, experts call for a long-range plan to develop manpower starting from the universities level. Islamic finance also needs training centers where bankers can be trained.

In this context, the morning session featured signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between CIMB Islamic Bank and IRTI on the Islamic Finance Country Report for Malaysia.

The Malaysian-based IFN under Redmoney group said prior to its Riyadh event that the Kingdom holds 18 percent of global Islamic banking assets and 14 percent of Islamic fund assets. It is home to 10 of the 20 largest Islamic funds and over 160 Islamic funds in total.

The 3rd IFN Saudi Arabia was attended by both local economist experts in this vibrant sector, the Kingdom’s Islamic capital market picks up and the government allocates a significant amount from its budget toward the development of infrastructure projects ranging from educational institutions to health care to power and transport.

“While the country aims to diversify its revenue generating markets, currently approximately 90 percent of government revenues and 85 percent of exports stem directly from the hydrocarbons sector,” said IFN in a statement,

Yet, with the stock markets set to open to foreign investors in 2015, the country offers exciting prospects that could revolutionize the international Islamic investment market.

This year’s IFN Forum will without a doubt give participants a key advantage in leveraging Saudi Arabia’s rapidly developing Islamic finance market.

Mohammad Ali Algari, professor of Islamic Economics, King Abdul Aziz University, was among the key speakers while discussion began with a CEO session on how to advance Saudi Arabia’s progress in the Islamic investment landscape on a global scale.

The session featured a list of experienced industry professionals, including from CIMB Islamic Malaysia, Islamic Research and Training Institute, Islamic Development Banks Group, Alkhair International Islamic Bank and Prudential Corporation.

A global real estate roundtable was conducted to assess opportunities for Saudi investors in real estate that continues to be a key driver for economies in the Middle East, Europe and other parts of the world, projects that are currently under way in the GCC estimated to exceed $1 trillion, with Gulf nations accounting for approximately 87 percent of the investments.

Real estate investment experts from King & Spalding, Jones Lang, Parisian Real Estate Advisor, Deloitte Middle East, Sedco Capital and DLA Piper acted as speakers.

The afternoon sessions tackled on sukuk as well as the lucrative infrastructure and project finance in the GCC. Senior deal makers from Qinvest, Dentons, HSBC Saudi Arabia, AMAF and Eiger Trading covered the trends, structures and opportunities available in that particular sector.

The last segment of the day features an outlook on the trends and strategies across the investment landscapes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in 2015.

Moderated by Lawrence Oliver, deputy CEO of DDCAP Group, the list of panelists include leading investment Islamic experts and intermediaries from Kahlij Islamic, Saturna Capital, MASIC, Towers & Hamlins and Deloitte Luxembourg.


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