Dubai: Industry analysts at the International Islamic Finance Forum 2010 predict that the value of assets managed by Islamic banks will grow to Dh14.6 trillion ($4 trillion) by 2020.

This will be possible as the world's Muslim population continues to grow and globally more non-Islamic jurisdictions warm up to the concept of Islamic banking.

However, the need of the hour, according to analysts, is to address issues such as evolving sukuk structures, poor corporate credit and product innovation.

These sentiments were expressed through an electronic voting system by delegates and high-profile speakers at the forum.

Poor corporate credit was considered the primary cause of recent sukuk defaults and near defaults, followed by lack of Islamic regulatory oversight. About 44.5 per cent of participants voted that sukuk structures will evolve only over the next three years from asset-based arrangements to true asset-backed.

"Long-term prospects for the sukuk market are expected to remain strong. This would be given the increasing popularity of Sharia-compliant products as well as huge investment and financing requirement in Asia and GCC," said Baljeet Kaur Grewal, managing director and vice-chairman of Kuwait Finance House (KFH) Research Ltd and speaker at the International Islamic Finance Forum 2010.

The industry placed 70.5 per cent of votes on the fact that quality and quantity of Islamic finance products need to improve to drive growth in the Islamic finance industry, while 27.3 per cent felt there must be significant improvement in the quality of new products to achieve real growth.

Shifting preferences

"Investors are shifting their preferences and so it is necessary to have well grounded fundamentals. Innovation and diversification of our offerings is necessary. Investors today are more cautious in their investments," added Mohsin Mohammad Al Haribi, chief executive officer of Sorooh Investments.

Eminent speakers like Dr Christian Menegatti, vice-president of global econ-omic research, Roubini Global Economics; Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economist, NCB Capital; and Peter Casey, head of Islamic Finance, Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) among others shared their views over four days on the potential of the industry and future growth.