By Abdulaziz al Jahdhami - MUSCAT — Oman’s first Islamic Finance and Banking Conference which was organised by Al Iktissad Wal-Amal Group in collaboration with the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) concluded yesterday. The two-day conference explored the core of Islamic finance industry and its economic and financing role to support the economy.
The conference brought together a wide range of participants from various Arab and Islamic countries to exchange experiences and knowledge in Islamic banking industry. Among the participants were governors of central banks, heads of regulatory and monitoring bodies, leaders of Islamic and commercial banking institutions, representatives of foreign banks and investment companies, members of Shariah boards of international and Arab financial institutions as well as stakeholders in Islamic banking.
A number of elements supported the development and growth of Islamic financial and banking products and services such as the resilience of Islamic financial institutions to global economic and financial crisis, its flexibility towards implications and the availability of Islamic alternatives to conventional banking services and products.
It is expected the Islamic banking industry in the Sultanate will give impetus to national economy to achieve accelerated growth rates and open new horizons for competitiveness in the sector.
This new concept of banking will also contribute to new job opportunities and to fulfil the expected demand for Islamic products and services in the Omani market.
Furthermore, the Islamic banking industry serves the needs of customers seeking Sharia-compliant banking and financial products and services. Hamood bin Sangour al Zadjali, CBO Executive President, pointed out: “I think most of the local banks in the Sultanate will open windows for Islamic banking services in addition to foreign banks which may also set up new branches in Oman. The commercial banks will open only windows, but not full-fledged banks. Thus, those banks will practice Islamic banking within the rules and regulations of the CBO.
“There would be a special booklet guiding the banks to start Islamic banking and this guide book would be released soon. Training will be also offered for staff of the conventional banks in co-operation with College of Banking and Financial Studies.”
On the second day of the conference, four sessions were conducted to discuss various themes and concepts. The first one touched on Islamic finance and capital market activities and elaborated on the competitive advantage of Islamic financial products, Islamic and sustainable conventional funds and development of Sukuks markets and the potential of growth.
During the second session, Takaful Services and efficient market presence were highlighted. It discussed several issues such as insurance the Islamic way, the nature of Takaful and the attractive markets of Takaful.
The third session shed light on the supervisory and regulatory role of Sharia boards and underlined the difficulty of using religious legal norms in a secular setting. It also briefed the audience on the missions and tasks of Sharia boards as well as the financial structuring and innovation under Sharia constraints.
The fourth session brought to light the Islamic finance socio-economic accountability which includes the Islamic banking, ethics and responsibilities. It also touched on the Islamic banks and efficient social presence as well as the economic justice in commercial dealings.