First banks, now companies: Gulf firms 'go Islamic'

Across the Gulf, companies that have traditionally used conventional finance are considering whether to "go Islamic", by conforming to sharia principles such as bans on interest payments and monetary speculation. The number of major firms taking the plunge is still small - a handful in the past six months - but they underline the growing depth and cost-effectiveness of Islamic finance after several years of rapid growth in the industry. Companies can face a range of incentives and pressures to adopt Islamic finance. Those include government efforts, social pressures or attractiveness to potential investors.