Rapid growth in Islamic banking

The Islamic banking industry is growing rapidly, with more and more companies choosing to offer a range of products compliant with Muslim law.

Assets of Islamic banks have soared by almost a quarter (24 per cent) each year over the past decade and now command a majority share of many key markets, including the Gulf states, an Islamic banking expert told Reuters.

Izzedine Khojah, secretary general of the General Council, explained that Islamic banking is rapidly expanding and is likely to maintain its recent growth over the next few years. Around 300 Islamic banks and financial institutions now exist worldwide, with an estimated $300 billion in assets, a figure predicted to soar to $1 trillion by 2013.

Speaking at a conference on Islamic banking, Mr Khojah said: "Islamic banking has proved the ideal model for the needs of Islamic societies, we are no longer talking about fragments. Governments and central banks have taken the lead in supervising Islamic banks and encouraging growth of the system."

The Islamic banking chief pointed out that Syria passed Islamic banking and insurance laws in 2005, Libya passed similar legislation several years ago and the Islamic banking industry itself has established its own standards and tools, including a rating agency and an arbitration authority.

UK bank Standard Chartered unveiled new premises in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), this week and said that it planned to expand its Islamic banking services in the Middle East. An increasing number of western banks have started to produce products that are compliant with Islamic Sharia law.

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