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  Economics
Kuwait ready to become hub for Islamic finance -- economist
14/01/2012   |   12:43 PM | World News
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Belgian academic and economist Professor Laurent Marliere
Belgian academic and economist Professor Laurent Marliere

By Nawab Khan

BRUSSELS, Jan 14 (KUNA) -- There is currently a tremendous opportunity for Kuwait to profile itself as a hub for Islamic finance and Islamic banking, according to Belgian academic and economist Professor Laurent Marliere.
"The winners of the upcoming Kuwaiti elections could take a challenger's position in the region and benefit from the numerous advantages of the country to pioneer new ways of conceiving Islamic finance," he told the Kuwait news agency, KUNA, in an interview, on the occasion of the upcoming polls in the Gulf country.
Marliere, the CEO of the Brussels-based ISFIN, the world's leading network of Islamic Finance Lawyers, follows closely the developments of Islamic Finance in non-Muslim countries.
"Islamic finance itself is being challenged to redefine its model, not to mimick conventional finance. There are great expectations around the globe concerning Islamic finance and Islamic banking, which is discipline that does not belong to the Muslims exclusively but has turned into a global phenomenon, " stressed the professor who teaches marketing.
He noted that Islamic finance is in a riper state in Asian Muslim countries than in Arab Muslim countries. "Malaysia has been leading the way for a decade but other jurisdictions now have entered in a battle to challenge that leadership: Singapore, Hong-Kong, Indonesia." "The world expects Islamic financial institutions to take more leadership on global finance and one of the biggest challenges facing the industry is its lack of innovation and its poor marketing," said Marliere. He pointed out that historically, Kuwait is actually a pioneer in Islamic banking.
"The Islamic banking institutions in Kuwait are regulated by the Central Bank of Kuwait, established in 1968 under the Central Bank of Kuwait Law (CBK). CBK Law provides for the Islamic banking regulatory and supervisory framework and sets the requirement for the Shariah Governance framework," he said.
"Kuwait's Islamic banking industry is set to embark on the market without being hindered by substantial legislative formalities. A lot of time can be gained using pre-existing legislation," said the professor.
"Actually, one of the incentives owned by Kuwait, in the battle to develop a hub in Islamic banking, is the flexibility of its legislation. The text is very modern and should be dug out of the sand by the new government," he told KUNA.
The Belgian economist said that Islamic banking is one of the businesses that cannot suffer rigidity in its regulation and supervision. "It is a fast growing area of world's finance and competitive jurisdictions must react accordingly." "A Shari'ah compliant investment consists of a third of money, a third of religion and a third of law. The latter third is becoming more and more important as we live in an unsecure world and the legal framework is a guarantee to provide more security," he added. (end) nk.rk KUNA 141243 Jan 12NNNN

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