Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, caused a furore recently when he said some aspects of Sharia law were ‘unavoidable’ in the UK.TRAVEL MOLE:
Only time will tell whether that is the case, but what is happening quietly in the bowels of the City of London is the rise of Sharia - or Islamic – finance.
It is not that the moneymen have had a religious conversion. Rather, there is the realisation that there is profit to be made from in the Middle East and south-east Asia from massive infrastructure projects fuelled by oil-driven financial liquidity.
...The last few years have seen an explosion in Islamic finance in the UK. In 2004 the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development saw the establishment of the Islamic Bank of Britain, the first wholly Islamic retail bank. This was followed in 2006 by the European Islamic Investment Bank.
Both HSBC and Lloyds TSB have expanded their Islamic finance in the UK.
Even CIMA recently launched a Certificate in Islamic Finance. It offers ‘comprehensive skills’ in areas including Sharia compliance and ‘the complexities of the contracts that underpin this compliance’.
CIMA’s John Willsdon, who runs the course, said: ‘Islamic finance has caught the imagination of a great many people across the world. There is no doubt that the oil wealth amassed in the Middle East and South East Asia has given a tremendous impetus to this relatively new niche in the market.’
Since the launch in December last year, more than 50 students from 13 countries have studied for the certificate.
The Islamic hospitality market, or Sharia-compliant hotels, is pegged to be one of the fastest growing hospitality segments, according to Jonathan Worsley conference co-organiser, Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC).DATAMONITOR: Principle Insurance: a newly FSA authorized Sharia compliant insurer
He said that Dubai-based hospitality group Almulla Hospitality, has recently launched its Sharia-compliant hotel portfolio, comprising three brand tiers.
The group has also cited plans to target development in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Egypt and Malaysia in the first instance, with Thailand and Europe following closely behind.
“Almulla joins other UAE-based players including Shaza Hotels from Kempinski and Tamani Hotels & Suites from KM Group among others,” he said.
Rotana too has tickled the sector recently launching Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts with an offer-specific ‘no-alcohol’ label.
Almulla Hospitality’s chairman, Abdulla Almulla, said that the demand for Sharia-compliant accommodation is on the increase and represents 10 per cent of the world tourism market.
The FSA has authorized the UK's first independent takaful insurer, Principle Insurance.
Principle Insurance has become the UK's first Sharia compliant independent insurance company to be formally authorized by the FSA. The insurer will operate in accordance with Islamic laws, through which it will target the UK's estimated two million Muslims in the home and motor markets. In this way, the company is demonstrating a different approach to segmenting the insurance markets.
The FSA has given formal authorization for Principle Insurance to operate as an insurance company in the UK. The company will trade in compliance with Sharia Islamic laws in regards to financial services, which prevent accruing interest and some forms of investment. As such, Principle Insurance will operate along the lines of typical cooperative mutual insurers already present in the market.
While the insurer is not the first in the UK market with a Sharia compliant offering - HSBC already markets takaful insurance products - it is the first independent company set up to be fully compliant with Islamic law in the UK.
- SHARIA: COMING TO A NATION NEAR YOU!
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- EVERYWHERE, IF YOU LET IT...