Doha: Rapidly-growing Islamic-based finance will drive the next phase of economic growth across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), financial leaders have said at the Euromoney Qatar Conference on Wednesday
Globally Sharia-compliant assets are estimated to be worth $1.4 trillion (Dh5.1 trillion), and slated to post double-digit growth in the next two-to-three years, according to a recent report from Standard & Poorâ€™s. The GCC and Asia are set to be Islamic finance leaders, followed by newcomers such as Turkey and Nigeria.
As well as funding planned government infrastructure investment, Sharia-compliant finance is increasing its importance in the corporate space. International communications company Ooredoo recently launched a $1.25 billion 5-year Sukuk as part of a growing trend.
The rise of the Islamic financing sector will provide important stimulus at a critical period for the Mena region, where there is increasing pressure to boost employment opportunities and enhance support for the private sector.
The Mena region needs to create 75 million jobs to keep pace with population growth, requiring greater investment by small- and medium-sized enterprises which represent 80 per cent of the regionâ€™s businesses, according to figures presented at the conference.
Khalid Al Aboudi, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), said: â€œThe private sector is the main engine of growth for jobs, better income, and increased standard of living. Achieving this developmental goal will require public-private partnerships, supported with Islamic finance.
For Qatar to assume an increasingly prominent place on the world stage, Robert Stheeman, Chief Executive, United Kingdom Debt Management Office, said, â€œQatar will need to further diversify its economy and encourage the private sector and entrepreneurship, and continue its focus on research and development, education, and health. Successfully delivering on this will help Qatar achieve its National Vision 2030, and place Qatar as a leading economic centre in the region and global economy.â€