UAE: Fujairah to open graduate school on Islamic economic studies

By Frank Kane, The National

islamic-economyA new graduate school for Islamic economic studies in the UAE will support the Dubai government’s push to make the emirate the capital of the global Islamic economy by 2016.

The new institute is part of the Cambridge Academy for Higher Education, a private college registered in Fujairah that already offers students master’s courses in business administration in conventional economics, as well as healthcare and pharmaceutical research.

It is one of a growing number of educational initiatives in Sharia-compliant finance and economy, designed to train executives in Islamic business practice.

Education, as part of the knowledge and information pillar of the Islamic economy, has been identified as one of the key areas for growth by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, the body set up by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, who launched the Islamic initiative last year.

Professor Saad Othman, the president of Cambridge Academy, announced the new college at a graduation ceremony for MBA students in Dubai. He said: “Islamic economic products are valued at trillions of US dollars, and Dubai is looking to boost its exposure to this industry. Last year set records for Islamic bond sales in the Arabian Gulf, with $21.2bn raised by companies in the region, creating a boom for investment banks operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre.”

Cambridge Academy is a research-based education institution licensed in the Fujairah free zone that aims to educate leaders in the Middle East with a focus on executive education and training.

It joins the growing number of educational and business schools around the world that are exploiting the new-found potential of the global Islamic economy. The Canadian University of Dubai and London-based Cass Business School are just two that offer specialisations in Islamic finance within their MBA programmes.

In October at the World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai, the first online MBA in Islamic banking and finance was launched in collaboration between the Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking and Finance, a government initiative, and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya of Spain.

Dubai is aiming to take a lead over other centres of Islamic business in the Arabian Gulf region by concentrating a cluster of Sharia-compliant industries, including halal food, design, cosmetics and tourism, in the emirate.

By far the largest element of the $7tn-valued global Islamic economy is in banking and finance, with products worth an estimated $4tn worldwide.