Clara Gillispie
The National Bureau of Asian Research

Islamic Finance Conference

Islamic finance offers an appealing alternative to conventional mechanisms of financial investment and asset management. On October 18, 2007, NBR’s “Islamic Finance in Southeast Asia: Local Practice, Global Impact” conference brought together over 70 participants from government, law, financial institutions, asset management groups, and academia at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The participants examined the forces driving the growing phenomenon of Islamic challenges for U.S. policymakers and global business leaders. In her opening keynote address, Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz of Bank Negara Malaysia optimistically assessed the remarkable growth of Islamic finance over the past five years. “Islamic finance is now at the threshold of a new dimension in which it has an increased potential role to strengthen international financial inter-linkages between nations,” she stated. Spanning more than 75 countries—Muslim and non-Muslim—with an estimated average annual growth of 15% to 20% and total assets exceeding one trillion U.S. dollars, Islamic finance is gaining increasing visibility and viability as a sustainable form of financing and banking. U.S. regulators and stakeholders increasingly face challenges and opportunities in developing legal frameworks that integrate shariahcompliant products into U.S. financial and banking systems.

Conference Participants

Conference Participant List

Conference Publications

Islamic Finance in Southeast Asia: Local Practice, Global Impact
This report presents findings from the conference.

Islamic Finance: Global Trends and Challenges (March 2008)
This issue of the NBR Analysis contains adapted versions of the opening and closing keynote addresses from the conference, presented by Zeti Akhtar Aziz, governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, and Shamshad Akhtar, governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. As leaders and strategic thinkers in the Islamic finance industry, Governors Aziz and Akhtar provide invaluable insight both into the factors shaping the industry’s global trends and into the challenges confronting the industry’s long-term sustainability.

Left to right: Rushdi Siddiqui, Global Director of the Islamic Market Index Group, Dow Jones Indexes; Frank Vogel, Independent Consultant and Founding Director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School; Robert Hefner, Professor of Anthropology and Associate Director at the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs, Boston University; and Keith Driver, Chief Executive Officer at HSBC Amanah Takaful (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.