The third edition of Global Islamic Economy Summit concluded successfully on Wednesday with key messages – focus on innovation and technology and capitalise on the rapid Muslim population growth.
As the world grapples with the rapid technological advancements – which are now being widely characterised as a fourth industrial revolution – the closing session of the summit examined if the fast-growing Islamic economy can skip the third industrial revolution altogether.
The session underlined the importance of capitalising on innovation and technology to fully develop the Islamic economy, enabling it to become a veritable substitute to traditional economies and offer clear development projections and solutions. This can serve to curb the repercussions of volatility that are impacting the global economy.
The session also called on Muslim economies to transform into knowledge-based systems and invest in research and development to fully capitalise on available opportunities to serve their societies.
Taking part in the panel discussion, Abdulla Mohammad Al Awar, CEO of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, said: “The ongoing industrial revolution is a mixed bag of opportunities as well as challenges, and Islamic economies must ride the transition to fulfill the aspirations of their people.”
Al Awar also explained why the same industrial revolution yields many opportunities. “The Muslim world has the youngest population on the planet. Our youth are gifted and tech-savvy. They are an important class of consumers and they are also seeking the best services and products,” he said.
Al Awar noted that since innovation is the engine for the ongoing industrial revolution, the country with the most “brain power” will reap the most benefits.
He advised governments of Muslim-majority countries to build more and better schools and universities that encourage creativity, adjust their economic environment to create a level playing field for enterprises of all kinds, and work together in transferring knowledge and expertise.
The panel also included Hassan Al Hashemi, vice-president of International Relations at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who affirmed that Muslim societies are now embracing the digital economy and new technologies given the rapid pace of technology today.
“Stakeholders in the Islamic economy need to capitalise on the rapid Muslim population growth,” Al Hashemi said. “Muslim population growth is faster the global average and the tech-savvy youth make up a large percentage. Total Muslim consumer spending in 2015 amounted to $1.9 trillion according to Thomson Reuters; this figure is estimated to reach $2.98 trillion by 2021 – this presents many growth opportunities.”
Al Hashemi considered the UAE as a prime example of a young country on the fast track to social and economic development.
During the session, Nadim Najjar, Managing Director, Thomson Reuters – Mena, explained why the roles of the government, private sector and youth need to evolve to help the Islamic economy move forward.