Cameron backs London Islamic forum
David Cameron has welcomed London's hosting of the ninth World Islamic Economic Forum, being held for the first time in a city outside the Muslim world.
The Prime Minister promised to show an expected 1,800 visiting politicians, financiers and businesspeople from 115 countries that the UK is a "first-class destination for trade and investment from the Islamic world and beyond".
Among national leaders expected to attend this week's gathering are Malaysian PM Najib Razak, the Sultan of Brunei, King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, President Abdul Hamid of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane of Morocco and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan.
With the total value of assets compliant with Islamic principles growing by 150% since 2006, global Islamic investments represent an increasingly important market, predicted to grow to £1.3 trillion by 2014. Mr Cameron said he wanted Britain to be a "global partner of choice for Islamic finance".
"I am delighted that this week London will become the first city outside of the Islamic world to host the World Islamic Economic Forum, which shows very clearly that Britain is open for business," said Mr Cameron.
"With some of the world's fastest growing markets in Muslim majority countries, demand for Islamic finance is growing and this presents major opportunities for the UK. I am determined that we do everything we can to make Britain the best place to start, grow and do business and this demonstrates that we are a global partner of choice for Islamic finance with the expertise, innovation and services that are fundamental to the industry's growth.
"We are in a global race and as London host the World Islamic Economic Forum, we will be backing our businesses seeking new markets and banging the drum for Britain to show that we are a first-class destination for trade and investment from the Islamic world and beyond.
"As part of our plan to help Britain succeed, we will be championing and showcasing our skills and expertise to overseas investors in order to strengthen our economy for the benefit of hard-working people all across the country."
Last year at the eighth World Islamic Economic Forum, deals worth around £5.8 billion were struck.
There are already more than 20 banks in the UK that offer Islamic financial products and services - more than in any other Western country - and the London Stock Exchange has had 49 "sukuk" listings, valued at 34 billion US dollars over the last five years. Some 25 law firms in the UK operate substantial Islamic finance departments.
Chairman of the World Islamic Economic Forum, Tun Musa Hitam, said: "This is the first time that the World Islamic Economic Forum is being held in a non-Muslim European capital.
"The choice of this vibrant, cosmopolitan, yet ancient city is no coincidence. London is home to a vast multicultural population and a great gateway for trade and commerce, finance, culture, ideas and philosophy, to name a few. Organising the World Islamic Economic Forum in London represents our first step in promoting direct engagement in Europe as much as with it. It is also a continuation of our efforts to build bridges worldwide through business for the greater good of mankind."
Faith and communities minister Baroness Warsi told Sky News's Murnaghan: "We're delighted that they chose London as the first place outside the Muslim world to be hosting this conference. It's been a personal ambition of mine for this to come to London.
"It presents a huge opportunity. We will have 15 heads of state and heads of government, heads of industry from around the world, governors of central banks.
"Why is this important? Because 10 of the 25 largest growing economies in the world are in the Islamic world and half of our high-value opportunities that UK Trade and Industry are working on are within the Islamic world.
"It presents a huge opportunity for further growth and further jobs in the UK. Islamic finance has already had an impact on the UK - on the skyline of London, the Shard, Chelsea Barracks, the Olympic Village have all partly been funded by Islamic finance and only a few months ago the Prime Minister signed a further deal with the Prime Minister of Malaysia for Battersea Power Station, which can potentially create 15,000 jobs."