But he warned: “With a growing Muslim population – currently standing at 24 million in Europe – there will be ever-increasing competition from other European business locations, such as Paris, to take over our position.”
With Muslims forbidden by their religion to engage in the charging or receiving of interest, Islamic finance is essentially based on profit sharing. Worldwide, there are more than 550 Islamic financial institutions and Islamic mutual funds, and it is estimated that by 2010 the industry will be worth in the region of £790 billion.
Mr Nazir, who is chairman of the West Midlands Minority Ethnic Business Forum, said that because of their lower cost base, compared to London, Birmingham’s legal and other professional firms were now increasingly completing Islamic Finance-based deals for corporates and high networth individuals in the Middle East.
Stemming from growing demand for UK academic courses in Islamic Finance, Mr Nazir said that opportunities would open up not only for legal firms but also those involved in accountancy, banking, consultancy services, marketing and training & education.
The seminar, organised in conjunction with Business Voice WM – formerly the West Midlands Business Council – also coincided with the launch of Clarke Willmott’s new client service, specialising in Islamic wills, tax planning and estate administration.
James Hall, an Associate with Clarke Willmott’s private client team, said Islamic Finance was not just about huge corporate deals. More and more products were being developed with regard to home finance, unsecured and secured finance and commercial property finance.