Mubasher: Bahrain came in the second place globally, while ranked the first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the fifth edition of the Islamic Finance Development Report and Indicator (IFDI) by Thomson Reuters and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), which is the private sector development arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
This is the fifth consecutive year for Bahrain to rank the second globally, following Malaysia in the first position.
“As our region undergoes a dramatic economic transformation, the GCC presents exciting opportunities for international investors. Islamic Finance is a core pillar of our region’s offering,” executive director of banking supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Khalid Hamad said, according to a recent statement.
Islamic finance assets increased by 7% globally to $2.2 trillion in 2016 and are projected to reach $3.8 trillion by 2022.
With 24 Islamic banks holding assets valued at over $25.7 billion, the report also noted that Bahrain is developing fast through the promotion of Islamic finance education and literacy.
The CBB has recently released a new Shari’a governance module which is significantly impacting the Shari’a compliance and governance standards among Islamic banks in Bahrain.
“Supporting the development of its financial services industry, Bahrain has also just been announced as the regional leader in ICT Development for the fourth year running, enabling other sectors to take advantage of the state-of-the-art technology available in the kingdom,” the statement said.
Furthermore, Bahrain’s key strengths are attributed to high level of internet penetration, with 98% of the population being active internet users, compared to an average of only 77.6% across Europe.
Bahrain has amongst the highest levels of smartphone ownership, supporting a significant usage of social media and online banking.
In 2017, Bahrain has witnessed the establishment of a regulatory sandbox, the introduction of Shari'a-compliant and traditional crowdfunding regulations, and saw the launch of Bahrain Fintech Bay, the largest Fintech hub in the Middle East.