MANAMA: Around 400 delegates from more than 20 countries from as far afield as South Africa, North Africa, Asia and Europe took part in this year's Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) annual conference.
That was roughly the same turnout as last year's event suggesting that interest in the conference has not been affected by worries by the recent unrest in the kingdom, according to AAOIFI deputy general secretary Khairul Nizam.
"The turnout at this conference clearly shows that things are getting back to normal, certainly for financial conferences because there has been great enthusiasm to be here from across the Islamic finance world," he said.
The event has been a great success with a very high level of debate, he added.
"Amongst the topics discussed at the conference were, practicalities of Sharia auditing and review, issues relating to investment management on the basis of agency (Wakeel) contract, realities of leasing (Ijarah) contracts, issues on true and artificial sukuk, treatment on delinquent financing, alternatives to debt structuring and the impact of multiple terms and conditions in financial contracts.
The conference closed yesterday at the Gulf Hotel, but AAOIFI will now be carrying out training workshops in Bahrain until Friday. On a session on artificial sukuk, International Financial Market's Ijlal Alvi said that the sukuk market peaked in 2007 but suffered from the global financial downturn, but there were now signs that it was recovering, particularly in 2010.
"The sukuk market started in 1988 but we saw strong growth between 2004 and 2007 before the financial crisis. We are now seeing signs of an upturn, particularly last year."
He said Malaysia continued to dominate the market with 58 per cent of issuance, followed by the UAE which accounted for some 16pc of sukuk. Bahrain issuance represented 3.19pc of the global market.
Internationally and in domestic markets, corporate sukuk dominated with 63pc of the share of both markets. Sovereign sukuk accounted for 31pc in international markets and reached 35pc in domestic markets.
"The growth of the corporate market for sukuk is encouraging a higher level of transparency but we still face the problem that the market remains too low and needs to grow," he added.
"To achieve this we have to develop a strong secondary market in these instruments," he added.