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Islamic banking continues to grow by double digits

Assets rise to $822b from $639b in 2008

Gulf News

Dubai: Islamic banking assets continued double-digit growth this year as conventional bank growth stagnated, according to The Banker's Top 500 Islamic Financial Institutions survey, published in association with HSBC Amanah.

Assets held by fully Sharia-compliant banks or Islamic banking windows of conventional banks rose by 28.6 per cent to $822 billion (Dh3 trillion) from $639 billion in 2008. This is in striking contrast to The Banker's 2009 Top 1,000 World Bank rankings released in July, which showed annual asset growth of just 6.8 per cent at conventional banks.

The Islamic finance industry continues to build a solid track record: the compound annual growth rate for 2006-2009 is 27.86 per cent, with assets forecast to hit $1033 billion in 2010.

Brian Caplen, Editor of The Banker magazine, said: "A conservative approach to risk and a close link between the financial sector and real assets has helped shield the sector from the worst of the credit crisis. But finding improved ways to manage liquidity at Islamic banks, as well as harmonising Sharia and prudential compliance between institutions and markets, remain significant hurdles."


David Dew, Deputy CEO of HSBC Amanah, said: "It is important that the Islamic finance industry continues to analyse its growth critically if it is to become a truly credible alternative to conventional banking in a significant number of markets.

"Our support for this global benchmark reflects HSBC Amanah's status as the premier cross-border provider of Sharia compliant financial services to retail, corporate and institutional clients. It also illustrates our commitment to continue to meet customer needs, which we believe will enable the industry to achieve meaningful scale and mainstream relevance in a growing number of international markets."

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states remained the dominant segment of Islamic finance, with $353.2 billion or 42.9 per cent of the total global aggregate. Iran remains the largest single market for Sharia-compliant assets, accounting for 35.6 per cent of the global aggregate.

Outside the Middle East, Malaysia remains by far the largest player, accounting for 10.5 per cent of the global aggregate, but other markets are expanding rapidly.

The UK now accounts for just under 2.5 per cent of global Sharia-compliant assets, and the Syrian Islamic finance market expanded an eye-catching 500 per cent.