Dubai-based Islamic Finance consultancy Amanie Advisors has opened a new office in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. The office aims to captalise on the considerable business potential in Egypt and North Africa advising bankers and fund managers about the principles of Islamic Finance.
According to Amanie, there is already approximately $52bn invested in Shariah-compliant investment funds on a global basis and an estimated $1.6 trillion of Islamic assets by 2012.
As the regional banking sector continues to mature and develop new products to cater to changing market needs, there is growing interest in doing the banking via the principles of Islamic finance.
Heading-up the Amanie Advisors group is Dr. Mohd Daud Bakar an internationally renowned Shariah scholar, who sits on various Shariah boards around the world.
"Demand for financial services in Egypt is growing rapidly, with a marked preference by many in the country for a Shariah-compliant financial alternative. We believe that our training and advisory services will be much sought after among asset managers and bankers," he said.
Dr. Bakar who is also the Chairman of Shariah Advisory Board of Central Bank of Malaysia and Securities Commission of Malaysia as well a member of Shariah board of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI); Morgan Stanley (Dubai); Noor Islamic Bank and Takaful (Dubai); Bank of London and Middle East (London); and Jadwa-Rusell Islamic Funds (Riyad), amongst others, continued.
"Many bankers require training and advice on how to structure Islamic Finance products. We are looking forward to working with many financial institutions and individuals in the Islamic finance space in Egypt and the broader North African region," he added.
Islamic finance is a departure from interest-based financial transactions and works on the principles of trading, leasing and partnership to create new wealth, thus linking it to real economy sector. It also prohibits investment into entertainment, alcohol, pork, and gambling industries, which is a very attractive proposition to many investors in the region.
The Cairo office will be directed by CEO, Ibrahim Zahaf, who will be moving from the group's Dubai office. Commenting on the Cairo office incorporation, Zahaf said, "Like many other industries in Egypt, Islamic Finance needs human capital development. Banking executives and staff need to understand the underlying principles and rules, of Islamic Finance to be able to offer Shariah-compliant products. We are now perfectly positioned to fill that gap in the market."
Also planned is a two-day conference scheduled on 23-24 October this year, which will highlight new opportunities available for the Islamic finance industry in Egypt and North Africa.
Amanie's new Cairo office will be supported by their internationally respected Shariah Board and global network of financial professionals, which operate from offices in Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Luxembourg.