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Islamic finance conference set for Dublin this summer

Last update - Thursday, March 1, 2012, 15:09 By Catherine Reilly

A MAJOR CONFERENCE on Islamic finance and investments will take place at Dublin’s Convention Centre in early June.

Organised by the Irish Business Executives Forum – an alliance of Islamic and mainstream businesspeople in Ireland – and the Saudi-based International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, the conference aims to promote Ireland as a “hub” for Islamic banking and explore how Islamic compliant finance can contribute to global economic stability.
Improvements to facilitate Islamic finance in Ireland were included in the previous Government’s Finance Act 2010 with further measures in upcoming finance legislation, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced last year that he wanted Dublin’s IFSC to become “a centre of excellence” for Islamic finance.
According to the Department of Finance, Islamic finance is considered to be the fastest growing financial sector in the world, growing at roughly 10 per cent per annum. In 2007 the global Islamic financial market was estimated to be worth about $700bn.
The department noted that Islamic finance requires all transactions to comply with Sharia (Islamic law and principles). Such stipulations include a prohibition on earning interest (riba), on uncertainty/speculation (gharar) and investment in ‘unethical’ businesses, products or services (such as alcohol, tobacco, pork, gambling, adult entertainment, and weapons).
It says Sharia-compliant products are usually backed by or based on an identifiable and tangible underlying asset. It is also important that the investor and investee share the risk of all financial transactions. Under Sharia law “money is used to measure value and is not an asset in itself”.
According to conference convenor Sheikh Shaheed Satardien, the Islamic compliant sector has suffered far less “collateral damage” compared with its western equivalent since the economic crisis began in 2008, and he believes that Ireland has a unique opportunity to position itself as a leader in Europe.
“It has the infrastructure, it has the regulatory regime, it has social stability, it has favourable corporate taxation and it does not have historical baggage vis-à-vis Islam,” he said.
Sheikh Satardien added that the event will feature an international panel of speakers with a confirmed list currently being prepared.

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