Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna bin Khalid Al Qasimi has said the UAE and Gulf offer big opportunities for public private partnerships (PPPs) to reach their maximum potential.
She added the UAE seeks to achieve a three per cent growth this year.
She was speaking at the opening of the PPPs 2009 Abu Dhabi: Islamic Finance & the Development of Infrastructure conference at Abu Dhabi's Le Royal Meridien Hotel yesterday.
Sheikha Lubna said UAE's non-hydrocarbon businesses continue to expand and the realty sector steadily moves to more stable levels.
The minister said the Gulf area is expected to post a combined GDP growth of 2.5 per cent this year, adding that the area formed the largest Islamic banking market. Last year it achieved the biggest rate of growth in the Middle East, she said
Sheikha Lubna said "institutions in our area posted a phenomenal 47.5 per cent growth to $262.7 billion. Non-Gulf states of the Mena region also expanded strongly, expanding 40.4 per cent to hit $248.3bn."
She said GCC and non-GCC Mena states thus accounted for 80 per cent of the Islamic financial institutions' market in 2008, compared to 70.9 per cent the previous year.
Asia has been a particularly exceptional performer, led by Malaysia which grew by 32.3 per cent to reach $67.1bn. Pakistan and Indonesia are expected to attain strong growth, the minister explained. Sheikha Lubna said the "global Islamic finance industry is expected to achieve a 15 per cent to 20 per cent steady annual asset growth rate, with the top 100 institutions eyeing a 26.7 per cent annual rate."
The Banker 2008 report covering 500 Islamic institutions, including banks, finance companies and insurance or Takaful companies from 47 countries, shows that Shariah-compliant assets of the top 500 grew by 27.6 per cent since the November 2007 report to reach $639.1bn, said the minister.
She added "one important development that we are observing is the growth of new institutions, especially Islamic investment banks, in the Gulf and even Europe."
Sheikha Lubna said the combined Australia, Europe and America group expanded by 60.6 per cent to reach $35.1bn in 2008, representing 5.4 per cent of the market.
"UK's rapidly expanding activities in Islamic finance significantly fuelled this surge," she added.
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