Richard Thomas, chief executive officer of Gatehouse Bank, a leading Sharia-compliant investment bank based in London, joins lord mayor, Alderman Roger Gifford on a business visit to Oman this week. The delegation will comprise 20 business leaders.
The trip is part of a larger Middle Eastern tour the lord mayor is conducting in the coming months, which aims to promote UK’s financial and professional services capabilities and demonstrate UK’s commitment to working with Oman in these areas.
Thomas, with over 30 years experience in Sharia-compliant financial services, and who received his OBE from the Queen for services to Islamic finance in 2010, is joining the delegation this weekend and for the remainder of the tour. Thomas is chairman of the UK Islamic Finance Secretariat at TheCityUK, the official private sector body representing the UK financial services sector, where he champions the promotion of Islamic finance for both domestic and overseas’ business development, a press release said.
A regulatory framework for Islamic finance is already in place in Oman as government bodies move towards meeting the country's stated aim of making Sharia-compliant products available to the public. The development of the Islamic finance industry in Oman will bring business opportunities for international banks and insurers; there will further be a need for education, training and development of staff to service the nascent industry.
As Richard Thomas explained, “We are delighted to see the extent to which the UK government is working to support Islamic finance and bridge the gap between the West and the Islamic world. In today’s economic climate, Sharia-compliant solutions and Islamic economics are more and more relevant.
"Oman has a strong opportunity of growth in this area and as a UK Islamic bank we are keen to co-operate. Equally, international investors are becoming increasingly focused on wealth preservation, and sourcing income producing properties in mature and stable markets is key. London is already establishing its position as a strong home for international investment, and has a reputation as a hub for Islamic finance.”
Since its inception in 2008, Gatehouse Bank has established a global portfolio in excess of £1.25bn spread across real-estate assets, capital investment, and term deposits.