Qatar to emerge as Islamic finance hub

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Qatar is expected to assume a prominent position in the global Islamic finance market due to increased public spending and favorable financial regulations.
Qatar is expected to assume a prominent position in the global Islamic finance market with its increased public spending and favorable financial regulations.

A new report has predicted that Qatar will soon become a “key international distribution hub” for Shariah-compliant products as the Islamic finance market grows at an unprecedented pace.

Qatar Financial Centre Authority in its first ‘Mena Asset Management Barometer‘ suggests that Qatar’s position in the Islamic finance market will be boosted with the development of new infrastructure projects that will help in the growth of alternative fund structures and encourage public-private partnerships.

Currently, about 50 percent of the funds in Qatar are Shariah-compliant. Therefore, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar is rated as a prominent Islamic finance fund centre. The demand for Shariah-compliant products is expected to grow because of increased interest from MENA’s internal markets, Southeast Asia, Australia and pension funds in the UK and Europe.

The report also highlights that the asset management sector in Qatar is still in its infancy and the alternative sector will need time to develop. In 2013, the respondents believe that asset management sector will develop well because of increased infrastructure spending, financial support of government agencies and financial regulation to promote strategy diversity among the country’s pool of asset management firms.

As Qatar accelerates infrastructure investment on projects related to  hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country envisages public investment plans worth USD 95 billion over five years. Several private equity and infrastructure funds are keen to relocate to Qatar in order to benefit from the country’s infrastructure boom through direct investment or by holding stakes in firms engaged in supply chains of the development projects.

The survey respondents also believe that within the MENA region, Qatar was most likely to introduce short-selling regulations that would help in the creation of a domestic hedge fund sector. The country was also chosen by hedge fund management firms as the most favored location to establish a presence in the GCC.

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