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Bahrain – Nucleus for Islamic Finance

Bahrain : 22 February 2010

MANAMA: Selection of Bahrain by top global companies is a reflection of the stride the kingdom has made over the last four decades.

Economic Development Board (EDB) chief operating officer Kamal Ahmed said reports that consulting giant Deloitte has opted to base its new Islamic Finance Knowledge Centre (IFKC) in Bahrain indicates the kingdom’s reputation as the most time-honored financial centre in the Gulf and an international hub for Islamic finance. He said that as the first country in the region to launch a finance industry more than 40 years ago and a leader of Islamic finance, Bahrain is the ideal location for Deloitte to base IFKC. They are happy that Deloitte is among the growing number of global companies that are recognising the kingdom as the place of choice from where to reach the trillion-dollar Gulf market and the wider Middle East.

Deloitte, which has been in Bahrain since 1955, has selected the Middle East as a priority market that has potential for growth of its own business and its clients alike.

The company reported remarkable revenue growth of more than 25 per cent annually in the region for the past three consecutive years.

The IFKC will assist the firm’s clients tap into the growing potential of the Islamic finance sector, which is expected to maintain growth, which over the past five years, has averaged 15-20pc.

IFKC specialists will support the firm’s Middle East based consulting, tax, audit, risk and financial advisory professionals.

IFKC director Dr Hatim Tahir said as a key monetary services hub in the region, Bahrain is a natural base from which to launch IFKC.

Deloitte Middle East chairman and chief executive Omar Fahoum said that Bahrain was selected because it is a leading Islamic finance center for the Middle East region since there is a growing number of Islamic banks and financial institutions.

Mr Fahoum said that global Islamic finance assets are estimated by the International Monetary Fund to surpass $260 billion and projected to grow to $1trn by 2016.

Presently about 60pc of those assets are shared by countries in the Middle East, while 80pc of the top 50 Islamic banks throughout the world are located in the region.

Bahrain’s financial services sector – with more than 400 licensed institutions – is the largest contributor to total GDP (27pc).

Bahrain also has strong professional services, ICT, logistics, and manufacturing sectors, which the kingdom expects to grow as part of the Economic Vision 2030 and National Economic Strategy.

Andrew Reid, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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