With the turbulence in the global markets this year and the political and financial volatility making any transaction a risky business, the Islamic finance industry has sailed through stormy waters in 2011 to emerge battered but not broken at the end of what has been a challenging twelve months for all participants in the market.
But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as the saying goes, and we have not only grown and strengthened, but had the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from the challenges of the past year.
The Sukuk market has bounced back to record levels, with a strong performance right up to the end of the year: including the US$1 billion Indonesian sovereign issuance on the 14th November and the US$750 million issuance by the Kingdom of Bahrain on the 16th November, and the US$500 million issuance by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank on the same day.
The global economy is still extremely shaky, however, and we must shore up our foundations and look to consolidation and commitment to strong ethical and operational principles in order to prosper in 2012. The EU is still undergoing severe political and financial problems, especially in the PIGS countries of Portugal, Ireland (and Italy), Greece and Spain, and Eurozone funding pressures are expected to continue into the new year with the euro falling to a 10-year low against the yen and losing more than 3% against the dollar. The US is still struggling with high unemployment and unsustainable debt levels, and although the Dow Jones ended the year with a 5.5% gain, 2012 looks to be another turbulent year in the run-up to the November elections. The Middle East experienced extreme disruption in 2011 with the Arab Spring sweeping across North Africa and the Gulf region, and despite financial markets settling down somewhat towards the end of the year, oil prices still ended 2011up 13% due to supply concerns, including Iran’s recent threat to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping point.
However, Islamic finance has carved itself a strong niche in the global financial industry, and can look forward to a positive new year. Asia is performing strongly, and countries such as China and India have made big strides in entering the Islamic finance industry, offering new and exciting areas for development. France, the UK, Luxembourg, Japan and Australia have also entered the market and taken some positive steps towards encouraging their domestic industries, while in South Asia Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have all also been industriously encouraging development. In more established regions, Malaysia also consolidated its position as the global hub for Islamic finance, accounting for 68% of Sukuk issuances in 2011.
source: Islamic Finance News