In a bid to finance its vast economic reforms, Egypt has rekindled its interest in Islamic finance amid growing pressure to rebuild the country using internal financing, according to the Islamic Globe newspaper.
Part of the country's efforts will be to launch a sovereign Sukuk, or bond, program within months. It would be Egypt's first sovereign Sukuk, ahead of country states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Jordan as well as mature markets such as Great Britain and France, the newspaper said.
"The Egyptian regime's top brass are now believed to be mulling a timeline for a potential sale," the paper said. "In extensive talks held in Cairo recently, officials from prime minister Essam Sharaf 's office told Islamic finance chiefs the government was exploring Shariah compliant financing options for a nationwide rebuild program."
A member of the Egyptian Islamic Finance Forum who met one of Sharaf 's men, Mohamed Beltagi, told the Islamic Globe that delegates showcased studies on Egypt's future as a thriving center of Islamic finance, with Islamic bonds as a centerpiece. The government has remained tight-lipped over its plans, but it could be on the cusp of selling Sukuk, according to Beltagi.
An upsurge of political unrest in post-Mubarak Egypt forced the interim government to delay Islamic corporate bond regulation, fueling concerns that it's losing ground to other Middle East and African nations in attracting Muslim wealth, said the Islamic Globe.