London as the global centre for Islamic finance?

January 28 2015


  • Farmida Bi (Norton Rose Fulbright)

  • Harris Irfan (European Islamic Investment Bank)

  • Stella Cox (DDCAP)

  • Wayne Evans (TheCityUK)



Western Europe’s relationship with Islam is a tad strained at present – but one area where coexistence and cooperation are clearly thriving is Islamic finance, defined broadly as providing financial services in a sharia-compliant way. We have looked at Islamic finance several times before, but the topic is well worth revisiting – particularly in the light of public and private efforts to make London the centre for Islamic banking, sukuk issuance and even sharia-compliant insurance.

How are we doing? And how are our competitors (in Europe, the Gulf, Malaysia etc.) doing? The UK became the first western government to offer a sovereign sukuk early last year, but was that a one-off or a sign of even bigger things to come?

To discuss the UK’s role, I am delighted that we have been able to put together a distinguished panel:

  • Farmida Bi is head of Islamic finance for Europe at Norton Rose Fulbright. She is an expert in Islamic capital markets, and has advised on such important deals as the recent Goldman sukuk and the Pakistan sovereign sukuk.
  • Harris Irfan heads investment banking at the European Islamic Investment Bank and is the founder of Cordoba Capital. He was previously global head of Islamic banking at Barclays and was a founder member of Deutsche’s Islamic finance team. He is also the author of “Heaven’s bankers: Inside the hidden world of Islamic finance”.
  • Stella Cox is managing director of the DDCAP group, which services Islamic wholesale markets. She was recently appointed chair of TheCityUK’s new Islamic Finance Market Advisory Group; having previously been a member of the government’s Islamic Finance Task Force.
  • Wayne Evans is an advisor on Islamic finance issues to TheCityUK. He is a member of the Islamic Finance Board at the University of East London, and also sat on the Islamic Finance Task Force.

This is, obviously, a market with huge potential.