Tartan pursuit


Islamic investment into Scottish real estate is nothing new. Indeed, I made my first Shariah compliant investment north of the border more than 12 years ago. But recent evidence suggests that tartan is currently very much in favour among investors.

Proving Islamic investors’ ability to judge each location on its merits, that first acquisition was not in Edinburgh or even Glasgow, but in the market town of Dumfries. We believed at the time it was probably the first, or one of the first, Islamic acquisitions in Scotland.

While the Dumfries acquisition was in the retail sector, investor interest is across a very wide set of sectors and indeed locations. Gatehouse Bank purchased and then exited a manufacturing facility in Glasgow let to Rolls Royce. Gulf Islamic Investments acquired an office property in Aberdeen earlier this year. Our own 90 North invested into student accommodation in both Edinburgh and Dundee over the last month or so. And most recently, Investcorp could not resist five industrial units in Uddington, Blantyre and Livingstone. Truly diverse.

Purchasing real estate in Scotland has always been slightly different. While England and Wales have a common legal system, the legal process in Scotland while similar is not the same. But there is now a critical mass of Islamic real estate managers, lawyers and tax consultants able to advise on such acquisitions as part of a Shariah compliant structure.

Complementing such real estate investment management activities is the support for Shariah compliant retail banking in Scotland. It has been two years since Al Rayan opened its first Scottish branch in Glasgow, offering home purchase solutions to the Muslim population.

At the moment, I see nothing to suggest that such interest in the real estate of Scotland is fading. We are analysing two Scottish opportunities at the moment, but with the snow and short days of the winter months now upon us, I would recommend suitable winter attire for those inspecting from warmer climes!

This article was first published in Islamic Finance news dated the 21st November 2018.