Over the last two decades, Islamic finance has registered significant growth, with Shariah-compliant assets globally growing at 15-30 percent annually, crossing by the end of 2010 a market size of US$ 1 Trillion.
The Islamic financial services industry has also evolved in structure, including in addition to Islamic banks, investment and mutual funds, project finance companies, and takaful institutions.
Strong resilience of Islamic financial institutions during the global financial crisis, the constructive role played by conventional intermediaries through financial engineering and knowledge sharing, the rising interest in Islamic finance in the world’s leading conventional financial centers, and the significant increase of Islamic bonds (Sukuks) in regional and western conventional investments, are all key drivers for the development of the Islamic financial sector.
Moreover, the development of modern Islamic finance has been largely a demand driven phenomenon, propelled by clientele and investors seeking banking and financial products that are compatible with their religious faith.
The sultanate of Oman, choosing to finally ride the tide of the other GCC countries, has made an interest sparking u-turn in its banking policies embodied in a decree authorizing the establishment of new Islamic banks in Oman.
Thus far, the Central Bank has given licenses for two full-fledged Islamic banks, while a large number of conventional banks are to operate through windows for Islamic banking. Assets in Oman’s Islamic banks could rise to US$ 6 Billion, capturing a substantial proportion of 8 to 10 percent of the Omani banking industry in the next 3 to 5 years.
In light of the ongoing dynamic changes in the Sultanate, Oman First Islamic Finance & Banking Conference was held on 23 – 24 January 2012, at Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz Carlton Hotel , Muscat under The Patronage of His Excellency Darwish bin Ismail bin Ali Al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs in the Sultanate of Oman.
This event was organized by Al-Iktissad Wal Aamal Group in cooperation with the Central Bank of Oman and the Capital Market Authority, and brought together more than 400 high level participants including governors of central banks, heads of Islamic and conventional banks, fund managers, Shariah & legal experts and consultants.