The second annual Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Islamic Banking and Finance Forum will be held today in Uzbekistan’s capital city Tashkent.
The conference will explore topics such as Sukuk (Islamic bonds) investment opportunities in Central Asia, with a focus on Uzbekistan. With a population of 30 million—93% of which is Muslim—and critical natural resources including natural gas and oil, Uzbekistan holds great opportunities for Islamic investing. As Islamic finance outlaws the concept of usury, specific financial institutions must be created to facilitate this growth. The government of Uzbekistan issued a draft resolution in May 2019 to create infrastructure for Islamic banking, expand financial services in the country and attract more investors, specifically from the Middle East.
Uzbekistan was one of the few countries to avoid negative growth in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in part due to reforms that liberalized prices and removed barriers to domestic and international trade. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have been successful in implementing Islamic banking, and it is the fastest-growing segment of the global financial industry. As such, expect Uzbekistan to follow its neighbors in implementing its practices for more ways to integrate within Central Asia, the CIS community and the greater Muslim world.
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Nastia is a research analyst on the Current Developments team. She focuses on the former USSR region, specializing in security, Russian and Eurasian affairs.