Saudi Arabia strengthens position as world’s largest Islamic finance market

Saudi Arabia had total Islamic finance assets of $339bln as of March 2020

Skyscrapers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose

Skyscrapers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose

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LONDON: Islamic financing in Saudi Arabia will reach around 80 percent of system-wide loans in the next 12-18 months according to a report from Moody’s.

That compares to 78 percent of loans in the Kingdom in 2019 and 70 percent in 2013, the credit ratings agency said in a report on Tuesday.

Moody’s anticipates a shift to more Shariah-compliant finance over the next 12-18 months as corporates and households increasingly use Islamic products, even as low oil prices and the coronavirus crisis cause economic challenges.

Saudi Arabia had total Islamic finance assets of $339 billion as of March 2020, leaving Malaysia in a distant second place with $145 billion.

“A comprehensive set of Islamic finance regulations have spurred Saudi banks to issue sukuk, Islamic products are now listed on the main market, and an Islamic mortgage refinancing businesshas been established,” said Ashraf Madani, VP-Senior Analyst at Moody’s.

The industry will further benefit from increased government sukuk issuance, potentially rising foreign investment supported by more lenient entry rules and deepening capital markets, Moody’s said.

A wave of mergers and acquisitions across the region is also accelerating the penetration of Islamic finance.

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