Alderman Fiona Woolk, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said there has been great interest from British Islamic banks.
The UK's debut GBP 200 million sovereign Sukuk is set to launch in September this year, Fiona Woolk said. "Britain has some 25 banks operating Islamic financial services, and they have been pushing for a Sukuk for some time as a way to manage liquidity," she said.
Law firm Linklaters is acting as advisor to the $200 million Sukuk, which was announced at the World Islamic Economic Forum held in London in October 2013. "The City of London welcomes David Cameron's announcement of GBP 200 million of Islamic bonds as an important step forward in the UK's role as the western hub for Shari'ah-compliant financial products," Woolf said.
Although London isn't looking to rival any Islamic finance hubs, Woolf said, it can be part of the sector's growth through its international financial centre. "The City of London has the right infrastructure, knowledge and skills to play a large role in this fast-growing industry," she said, pointing out that may Islamic financial transactions in the Middle East already go through London. "You do not have to be in London to utilise what it has to offer in Islamic finance," she said.
The UK is the single largest western destination for Islamic finance, with more Shari'ah-compliant banks than any other European country. "Muslim countries still hold the vast majority of Shari'ah-compliant vehicles but London is experiencing exponential growth in this area," said Woolf. "There are around 250 overseas banks operating in London, so the 25 Islamic banks make up a strong contingent."
Islamic project finance is one of the most exciting areas for the City of London, Wolf said, as the UK needs large infrastructure investment as it goes through a period of growth.
The 686th Lord Mayor of the City of London, who took office in November 2013, was visiting Dubai as part of a regional tour.