Classes are teaching financing methods that conform to holy laws as field expands into a global industry
By Deborah Horan
Amir Davoodi had read about the meteoric rise of Islamic banking, but the senior finance major at DePaul University didn’t realize how intrigued he would become with the idea of mixing Islam and market finance until he took a course on the subject last fall.
Now Davoodi has accepted an internship with a local Islamic real estate company, Sunrise Equities, and might pursue the banking niche after graduation.
“Right now it’s booming,” Davoodi said. “They’re saying there’s a market out there for it. I know I can learn a lot and it will help with my career.”
Driven by rising oil prices and an increasing desire by Middle Eastern and Asian investors to keep their cash in the region, Islamic finance has boomed into a $500 billion to $600 billion global industry, experts in the field said.
The growth prompted DePaul last fall to join a tiny vanguard of U.S. colleges offering classes or lectures on the subject. On Thursday, the university will sponsor a conference on Islamic banking methods including home financing, private equity, bonds, even derivatives and hedge funds.
“There is a significant demand clicking up for people who understand the field and can design products that are Islamic and can answer the needs of the community,” said Ali Fatemi, chair of DePaul’s finance department, who was instrumental in bringing the Islamic banking course to campus.