The markets for Islamic banking, insurance and sukuk bonds have all seen solid growth in recent years, but the sharia-compliant fund industry remains tiny. According to Hasan Al Jabri, chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s Sedco Capital, the growth of sharia-compliant investment has been stunted by a reputation for a lack of diversity, poor performance and high fees. Since May 2012, Sedco Capital has been building what is believed to be the largest sharia-compliant fund platform in Luxembourg. Its five vehicles hold $900m of assets. Sedco is currently launching two more vehicles. Mr Al Jabri emphasized that their investments are responsible, help creating value for the economy and jobs.
Saudi Arabia has appointed Mohammad al-Sheikh to head the Capital Market Authority, replacing Abdulrahman al-Tuwaijri, who had been at the helm of the agency since 2006. Mr Sheikh’s financial and legal background should help with his new role as the kingdom pushes forward with its plans to open up its nearly $400bn stock market to direct international buyers for the first time. This appointment is the latest in a series of reshuffles in the financial and political teams in Saudi Arabia, shifting towards private sector expertise.