Tuesday, 29 October 2013

David Cameron Unveils Plans to Make London a Mecca for Middle East Wealth

THE INDEPENDENT: Prime Minister hopes London can tap into the rapidly expanding global market in Islamic investments

David Cameron has announced plans to encourage investment in the UK by Muslim countries, saying he wants to make London “one of the greatest centres for Islamic finance anywhere in the world”.

Politicians and business leaders gathered in the capital for the ninth annual World Islamic Economic Forum – the first time the major event has not been held in a Muslim country.

The Prime Minister appeared on stage alongside a number of world leaders, including King Abdullah of Jordan and the Sultan of Brunei.

Among the measures unveiled was a plan from the Treasury to issue an Islamic bond - or sukuk - worth around £200 million. It would issue fixed returns based on the profit made by a named asset, allowing for Muslims to invest without breaking Islamic laws forbidding interest-bearing bonds.

A “world first” set of indices at the London Stock Exchange to help investors identify faith-compliant firms and projects was also announced as well as a £4.5 million boost to a small business growth fund.

The global market in Islamic investments is rapidly expanding, rising by 150 per cent since 2006 and expected to be worth £1.3 trillion next year.

Mr Cameron said Britain had already taken steps to ensure Muslims were not discriminated against - such as ending “double tax” on Islamic mortgages and introducing alternative forms of student and start-up loans to comply with a ban on interest payments.

It already had more Islam-compliant banks than any other Western country and many law firms and university courses centred on the subject, he said.

But he said that his ambition was for the country to compete with finance centres such as Dubai and Kuala Lumpur - not just other non-Islamic capitals. Read on and comment » | Adam Withnall | Additional reporting by PA | Tuesday, October 28, 2013