UAE: Dubai launches new centre for Islamic banking

UAE flagSheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of Dubai Executive Council, has launched the Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking and Finance as a first step to establishing Dubai as the world’s capital for Islamic economy.

The centre is a collaboration between the Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University, news agency WAM reported.

“The launch of the Dubai Center For Islamic Banking and Finance is a significant boost to the Islamic economy sector in the UAE, and a major step forward in the economic development agenda of Dubai,” said Sheikh Hamdan in comments published by WAM.

The announcement follows the unveiling of a plan in January by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, ruler of Dubai, for the emirate to become the “global capital” of the Islamic economy.

“Through this partnership between HBMeU and the emirate’s initiative: ‘Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy’, we underscore fruitful cooperation between the different sectors in the UAE based on investing in the best international expertise and experiences of Islamic economy, in order to benefit this sector, in general, and to consolidate the global economic stature of Dubai, in particular,” Sheikh Hamdan added.

The new centre will provide support to the initiative through three academic programmes on human resources development, scientific research and community service.

The centre will also play a vital role in widening access to Islamic banking and finance education to the wider community, WAM said.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Dubai was launching a drive to develop its Islamic business sector, aiming to attract fresh investment from the Middle East and south-east Asia.

The government will promote Islamic banking and insurance, Islamic financial products and other areas including the arbitration of Islamic contracts and the setting of quality standards for halal food.

Islamic finance, based on principles such as bans on interest and on pure monetary speculation, has grown rapidly around the world over the last several years, although it remains much smaller than conventional finance.

Islamic banks now command a roughly 25 percent share of the banking market in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to an estimate by Ernst & Young.

Dubai, emerging from its corporate debt crisis of 2009-2010, wants to boost growth with trade and investment from around the region. It has a history of successfully developing service industries; the Dubai International Financial Centre, opened about a decade ago, has become the Gulf’s top banking centre.