The Shariah-compliant (takaful) insurance industry like many other growing sectors- is facing a number of challenges, high inflation, uncertainty on investment returns and risk on capital loss are the key areas say industry experts. There is also need for genuine takaful operators to offer deeper understanding and better services rather than simply offering takaful-based products as one arm of a wider business, says Ghassan Marrouche, Chief Executive Officer at Takaful Emarat. He was speaking to The Gulf Today at the sideline of the 7th Annual World Takaful Conference 2012 that opened in Dubai on Monday. Over 350 industry leaders globally are attending the two-day event to discuss about the growth and expansion of the global Takaful industry. The theme of the event is “Improving Competitive Performance: Shifting to Sound Underwriting Profitability. Marrouche revealed that the industry is also expanding globally and is currently concentrated in Malaysia and the Middle East, where it has been experiencing significant growth rates. Takaful has undergone a significant internationalisation phase and managed to cross borders, said Marrouche. He mentioned that some Takaful operators are relying upon aggressive pricing strategies to compete against the established, older players in the market. Such pricing, Marrouche added is not sustainable and causing significant pressure on the industry’s profitability. Awareness and acceptance of takaful are also growing in regional markets such as Indonesia, Brunei, Turkey, India, and Pakistan. Takaful in Africa. Statistics indicate that in 2011, the global takaful industry was valued at US$12bn, recording a remarkable growth of 32 percent on the previous year. The GCC market alone recorded impressive growth, with 70 per cent of the market share coming from GCC countries, while Southeast Asian countries led by Malaysia accounted for approximately 21 per cent of the global takaful market. Despite growing concerns for the global economy, the Shariah-compliant insurance sector continues to expand further than conventional system, said the CEO. Takaful products are also becoming more and more competitive. Marrouche also disclosed that Takaful Emarat, the UAE-headquartered Shariah-compliant life and health insurance company, offer products based on the market needs.