MANAMA: Leading global companies are selecting Bahrain over the other financial centres is a sign of the stride the kingdom has made over the last four decades.
News that consulting giant Deloitte has opted to base its new Islamic Finance Knowledge Centre (IFKC) in Bahrain reflects the kingdom's track record as the most established financial centre in the Gulf and a global hub for Islamic finance, Economic Development Board (EDB) chief operating officer Kamal Ahmed said.
"As the first country in the region to establish a finance industry more than 40 years ago and a pioneer of Islamic finance, Bahrain is the ideal location for Deloitte to base IFKC.
"We are delighted that Deloitte is among the growing number of global companies that are recognising the kingdom as the location of choice from which to access the trillion-dollar Gulf market and the wider Middle East."
Deloitte, which has been in Bahrain since 1955, has identified the Middle East as a priority market that represents superior growth opportunities for its own business and its clients alike.
The company reports impressive revenue growth in the region of more than 25 per cent annually for the past three consecutive years.
The IFKC will help the firm's clients tap into the growing opportunities and potential of the Islamic finance sector, which is predicted to maintain growth that, over the past five years, has averaged 15-20pc.
IFKC experts will support the firm's Middle East based audit, tax, consulting, risk and financial advisory professionals.
IFKC director Dr Hatim Tahir said as a key financial services hub in the region, Bahrain is a natural base from which to launch IFKC.
Deloitte Middle East chairman and chief executive Omar Fahoum said: "Bahrain was chosen because it is a leading Islamic finance hub for the Middle East region since there is a growing number of Islamic banks and financial institutions."
Mr Fahoum said that global Islamic finance assets are estimated by the International Monetary Fund to exceed $260 billion and expected to grow to $1trn by 2016.
Currently around 60pc of those assets are shared by countries in the Middle East, while 80pc of the top 50 Islamic banks worldwide are located in the region.
Bahrain's financial services sector - with over 400 licensed institutions - is the largest contributor to total GDP (27pc).
Bahrain also has strong professional services, logistics, ICT, and manufacturing sectors, which the kingdom intends to grow as part of the Economic Vision 2030 and National Economic Strategy.