Saturday, 26 September 2009

London Becomes a Major Centre for Islamic Finance

The BBC recently reported that London has become one of the biggest centres for Islamic finance in the world:

"The old Chelsea Barracks in London was bought by the Qatari government for nearly £1bn - the biggest residential property deal in the UK.

The entire transaction was done under sharia pinciples, with contracts drawn up by lawyers at Norton Rose.

Farmida Bi, one of the law firm's partners, explained that London has attracted this kind of investment because the British government wooed Islamic money in the wake of 9/11, at the expense of the US.

"It was really September 11th that made being a Muslim a political statement and not just a matter of personal faith," she said.

"And with the Patriot Act, which made investments in the US difficult for many Islamic investors, there was a significant increase in Islamic investors choosing to invest in Islamic institutions and Islamic products."

So while groups in the US were investigating terrorist connections with Islamic banks, Muslim investors pulled their money out of America.

Some of the money got diverted to London, which had traditionally been a banking centre. The British government then helped further by changing regulations to give sharia-compliant funds a level playing field with conventional ones."

You can read the full article here.

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