CNN: Bahrain finance minister: Islamic rules saved us from recession

Bahrain finance minister: Islamic rules saved us from recession

From Richard Quest, CNN

March 10, 2010

Bahrain’s finance minister tells Richard Quest how the country escaped recession during the global downturn.

Manama, Bahrain (CNN) — Bahrain’s finance minister said adherence to strict Islamic rules helped his country escape the worst of the global recession.
Finance Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al Khalifa predicts growth of four percent for Bahrain’s economy this year, saying “long-term consistent growth” is the kingdom’s goal.
Sheikh Ahmed said the country “built an economy that is resilient, that is able to withstand shock.”

“We’ve gone through this period very well. I think the diversification of our economy has helped us tremendously,” he told CNN.
Asked how the kingdom avoided some of the riskier assets that ended up crippling other economies, the minister said: “Looking at Islamic finances and industry, because they are barred by their own rules from some of the creative products, they were able to stay away from those industries.”

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He said the country had a “conservative nature.”

Bahrain, an archipelago of 33 islands off the coast of Saudi Arabia, is a constitutional monarchy with an elected legislative assembly that has been ruled by the al Khalifa family since 1783.”We’ve never claimed we were immune,” Sheikh Ahmed said, however. “We were exposed like the rest of the world. But by adhering to best practices, we were able to make sure that we minimized the damage to controllable levels.”

For centuries, pearls were Bahrain’s biggest export and its main source of income. In the early 1930s, though, Bahrain became the first Gulf state to find a sizeable deposit of crude oil, a discovery that boosted the country’s economy and accelerated its modernization. Bahrain is also tapping into tourism and sports — in a similar way to other Gulf countries facing declining oil reserves — to promote itself internationally and attract new streams of revenue.

Bahrain International Circuit is the home of a series of international auto races, including the annual Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, which kicks off the Formula One season this weekend. Sheikh Ahmed said he expected 2010 growth to be “slightly better than what we experienced in ’09.””The challenge for us is to start looking at … what’s going to propel our economy for the next couple years,” he said.

Source: CNN

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6 responses to “CNN: Bahrain finance minister: Islamic rules saved us from recession”

  1. SonicSoriyah says:

    Capitalism is built upon the exploitation of poor disenfranchised workers and this can clearly be seen in the Gulf (and especially Dubai), where migrant workers are forced into slave-like conditions to keep construction and service costs down.

    I wonder why more Muslims do not speak out against capitalism. So-called “Islamic finance” is nothing but a mere reinterpretation of capitalism. It does nothing to challenge the hegemony of capitalism. Capitalism forms the unfortunate base of “Islamic finance” and Islamic notions and rules are thrown into it.

    Muslims have decided that capitalism is ok because of the supposed legitimization of capitalism through so-called “Islamic finance,” but in actuality there is nothing “Islamic” about it. Capitalism is an inherently exploitative and socially unjust system that should not be tolerated within an Islamic context. We can make ourselves feel good by telling ourselves that “Islamic rules saved us from the recession” or whatever, but we we can not makes ourselves better we look to how capitalism exploits and ruins poor and disenfranchised people’s lives.

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  3. Amad says:

    Bahrain is conservative??? Who is he kidding!!

    Bahrain is the place for Saudis to get drunk on weekends, crossing into on the flyover. I hear Qatar may be getting one too, which would be a mistake in my 2 cents.

    I do agree that Islamic finance may have saved banking, but the labor issue is a big problem… the injustice, esp. what happened in Dubai was awful.

    • F says:

      Amad, what amazes me is that it hardly registers on the radars of many practicing Muslims. Speaking to a few that live in UAE, they just shrug it off as “well, it is bad but what can you do?”

      What happens to the laborers is plain oppression, taking advantage of their situation because they would be far worse in their home countries. Many brothers talk about how high the salaries are in places like Dubai plus the benefits but do they not realize that it’s only because someone down the ladder is being exploited which enables the companies to offer afford such luxuries?

      I remember reading somewhere that Islamic finance is not simply about avoiding interest though that is what it has become these days. It is comprehensive and includes fairness, equality, and transparency in dealings between the parties involved.

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