JAKARTA, May 18 (Reuters) - Guyana has joined the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), officials said at the bank's annual meeting in Jakarta, as Islamic finance expands globally by offering countries access to cheap loans.
Around 10 percent of Guyana's population of 800,000 are Muslim, and Islamic finance activity in the country is minimal.
Membership of the Jeddah-based based IDB, a multilateral lender dominated by Muslim-majority states including Saudi Arabia and Iran, will give Guyana access to loans at concessionary rates.
In the long term, it could also encourage sharia-compliant banks and companies from the Gulf and southeast Asia to do business in Guyana.
Guyana is the 57th country and the second from Latin America after Suriname to join the AAA-rated IDB, which aims to "foster the economic development and social progress of member countries and Muslim communities." Kenyan officials have said their country may also join. (Reporting by Bernardo Vizcaino; Editing by Andrew Torchia and John Stonestreet)