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Discussing the future of Islamic finance in Europe, financial experts have debated aspects of Islamic finance and banking at Oxford Union, offering future economists a platform to better understand the booming industry.
“The skyline of London is being changed by Islamic finance,” Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State and Minister for Faith and Communities, and the Ministerial lead on Islamic Finance, was quoted by Gulf Times.
It is important for there to be “an Islamic finance market that doesn’t sleep,” Warsi, who launched the UK’s first Islamic Finance Task Force in 2013, added.
“We need to make sure that all time zones are trading in terms of Islamic finance products.”
Warsi was speaking at the inauguration of the Islamic Banking and Finance Society (IBFS) held at Oxford Union Debating Chamber last Wednesday.
The new society aims at acting as a platform for the Islamic finance as well as creating relationships between professionals in Islamic banking and finance students at Oxford.
“Two years ago, someone said to me that a sovereign sukuk in Britain ‘is impossible,’” Warsi said.
“Having fought the battles through that and shown that it can be achieved, I’m confident that standardization is something that we can make real headway on.”
Praising the economic benefits of the Islamic finance, Warsi said: “As a Muslim, I believe in the principles of Islamic finance.”
“As a Conservative, I can see the huge economic benefits of Islamic finance and as somebody who feels that Britain’s best days are still ahead of us.
“I feel that Islamic finance provides another opportunity to reach out to the world and bring the benefits of that for our citizens,” Waris added.
Nigel Denison, executive director of Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME), shared a similar opinion.
“It’s a very young industry; one of our big challenges is educating people around Islamic finance in a non-Muslim country,” Denison said.
Last October, the British PM, David Cameron has announced plans to encourage investment by Muslim countries, saying he wants to make London “one of the greatest centers for Islamic finance anywhere in the world”.
The United Kingdom is one of the leading countries in the European Union to have Islamic banks. It is also developing its takaful market for Islamic insurance.
The UK also has a strong foothold in developing products such as commodity murabaha – Islam’s version of interbank short-term lending and syndicated loans.
London is also advanced in Islamic retail services, with institutions offering a range of Islamic banking products, such as mortgages and car loans.
The Islamic Bank of Britain, granted a license in August 2004, became the first Islamic bank in the UK and has continued to attract customers for mortgages.