Bahrain has been ranked first globally in Islamic Finance Regulations in this year’s edition of the ICD-LSEG Islamic Finance Development Report.

Assessing the global industry's performance during 2022, the report demonstrated the transformation of the Islamic finance industry across the past decade, which began as a niche market and gained a competitive edge, spreading across several countries and regions.

With noticeable growth across the Middle East, the report additionally determined a surge in the practice of sustainable finance at Islamic banks, which has led to the development of new frameworks covering ESG and sustainable investments.

IFDI indicator

Based on the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI), the report was jointly launched by the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the private sector development arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) Group, and the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), the world’s leading provider of financial markets data and infrastructure.

The findings of the report were driven by the analysis of statistics from 136 countries around the world, compared across five indicators, namely financial performance, governance, knowledge, sustainability, and awareness.

The report outlined fintech, digital banking, and artificial intelligence (AI) as some of the key emerging trends, which resulted in pivotal impacts on the development of Islamic banking in the decade leading up to 2022.

Online events

In addition to being recognised as a country where new digital banks were opening amongst leading countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; Bahrain earned high rankings across key criteria. Bahrain was recognised for an upsurge in hosting online events led by the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) and the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM), all of which are headquartered in Bahrain.

Khawla Ahmed Hasan Ibrahim, Director of Islamic Financial Institution Supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain, said: "The CBB is committed to fostering a robust, transparent, and dynamic Islamic financial sector by putting in place a regulatory framework aligned with international best practices while supporting innovation and growth in Islamic finance. It will continue to provide a supportive ecosystem for investors and institutions alike to thrive within the Kingdom's financial services sector, particularly in areas like fintech, crypto assets, governance and sukuk.”

Dalal Buhejji, Executive Director of Business Development for Financial Services at Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “This achievement is a testament to the calibre of the financial ecosystem in Bahrain, particularly when it comes to Islamic banking. Bolstered by its solid foothold in financial services, the largest contributor to nominal GDP, Bahrain is uniquely positioned to cater to the needs of Islamic Finance institutions as well as fintechs and startups institutions offering sharia compliant products and services.”

Advances financial services

Since its inception, Bahrain’s advanced financial services sector has continued to innovate by nurturing an environment conducive to the development of Islamic finance, on both a human talent and industry level.

On the Islamic Finance Development Report, Bahrain achieved an overall ranking of 4th globally and 2nd in the Middle East & North Africa (Mena) in the report. Bahrain was additionally ranked 1st in the Gulf for Islamic Banking and 3rd globally for Islamic Finance Governance, indicating its excellence in regulation, corporate governance, and Shariah governance.

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