London… Ethical-Islamic Investment Hub

By  Radwa Khorshid, IOL Staff

 
 
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“London is the right and safe place for investments, tourism and students from all over the world,” said Tikriti. (IOL photo)

LONDON — More than 200 high-profile delegates from across the world of finance and investment came together Thursday, July 10, in London to explore the relationship between ethical investment and Islamic finance.“As London is one of the global capitals of economic investment growth, the rise of ethical investments, especially from the Muslim world, provides an opportunity for London to benefit from Shari`ah-compliant investments,” Ismail Patel, executive director of IslamExpo, Europe’s biggest Islamic culture event, said.

Speaking at the opening of the Ethical Investment in Britain Conference (EIBC), IslamExpo’s financial sub conference, Patel said Shari`ah-complaint finance industry rose by 30 percent in 2007 to stand at $ 500 billion.

“Accordingly, the potential for further growth remains substantial.”

Anas Altikriti, director of IslamExpo, agrees.

“London is the right and safe place for investments, tourism and students from all over the world,” he said.

“Regardless to gaps between the West and he Muslim communities that are based on some political decisions, London used to be a model for multi-culturalism, harmonized co-existence.”

Tikriti said that Islamic finance was the theme of EIBC in 2006.

“But this time we are tackling an issue that goes beyond the Islamic finance and the Shari`ah financial rules which is the ethical investment.”

Common

Attendees agreed that the Islamic finance and ethical investment have a lot of common grounds.

“There is no real difference between ethical investment and Islamic finance,” said Penny Shepherd, chief executive of the UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF).

“The right terminology should be ethical-Islamic investment.”

In recent years, London has established itself as a hub of Islamic finance with increasing number of London banks offering Islamic banking services to borrowers and savers.

There are four licensed wholesale Islamic banks – the only ones in the European Union.

London is also home to 21 conventional banks offering Islamic products, the newest of which is Gatehouse, which has received its license late April.

“The Islamic finance and the ethical investment are both a new phenomenon in UK nowadays,” Mohamed Malik, who lives in France, said.

“They have proved a very positive impact on the UK finance and that is why the government usually supports them.”

Over the past five years, the British government has been introducing legislation to nurture Islamic finance.

The government has amended finance acts to ensure that Shari`ah-compliant transactions are not exposed to multiple stamp duty tax breaks granted to certain kinds of interest.

The government is also planning to issue sovereign Islamic bonds.

“Not only Muslims in London are getting interested in the Islamic finance,” said Thomas, who works as lawyer in London.

“For me, I believe that with saving my money in an Islamic bank, the stability and the increasing

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