UAE: GIES roundtable focuses on leadership in Islamic economy

CPI Financial

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and strategic partner Thomson Reuters, organised the ‘Global Islamic Economy Summit Roundtable Series II, highlighting the importance of leadership for the development of the Islamic economy, at the DIFC Conference Centre recently.

The event, covering three sessions, explored topics: Islamic Finance and its Role in the Islamic Economy, Building Out the Islamic Economy Beyond Islamic Finance, and The Next 10 Years: Elevating the Islamic Economy onto the Development Agenda in the Muslim World.

GIES logoIt was held as a prelude to the second Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) taking place in Dubai next year under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and in line with his Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy initiative.

Presiding were, H.E. Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Secretary General and Board Member of DIEDC; H.E. Hamad Buamim, President and CEO, Dubai Chamber; and Dr Sayd Farook, Global Head of Islamic Capital Markets, Thomson Reuters. The event was attended by local and international business leaders and experts in Islamic finance.

In his welcome address, H.E. Buamim said: “Our roundtable series seeks to gather information and potential of opportunities going forward. We are seeking to explore how growth can be facilitated through greater interaction and unification at sector and bilateral level and examining how issues such as innovation are influencing consumer choices.

“Unification, standardisation and innovation are issues that we have touched on in the past and continue to need to be addressed. For Islamic finance, innovation is the catalyst for major change that will lead to new business. Meanwhile, knowledge sharing and talent development are key issues that we need to focus on.”

H.E. Kazim, giving a keynote address, said that Dubai is offering the world a model to follow in terms of the Islamic Economy. His Excellency Kazim said that since the ‘Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy’ initiative was announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, many new investments had been made by various stakeholders across the emirates. He said that the DIEDC would not have made as many achievements without the support and efforts of its partners across the various sectors of the Islamic Economy.

Dr Farook, addressing delegates said: “We have to follow through with the recommendations of the Islamic Economy and engage with you as captains of industry in a meaningful dialogue. We have to take the lessons already learned to focus on new markets and new opportunities. One area we must target is Islamic finance and the lack of capital for SMEs which is limiting growth in emerging markets across the Islamic Economy.”

The first session, led by Dr Adnan Chilwan, CEO, Dubai Islamic Bank, explored the topic ‘Islamic Finance and its role in the Islamic Economy.’ Speakers, including Badr Buhannad, Senior Vice President, Audit & Risk Management, Dubai Silicon Oasis, and Khaled Al Aboodi, Islamic Cooperation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), talked about the limited diversification of Islamic banking and how other sectors of the Islamic economy operate in separate arenas with limited interaction. The discussion focused on the way Islamic finance can facilitate growth in the Islamic economy and positively impact all its stakeholders.

The next session, ‘Building Out the Islamic Economy – Beyond Islamic Finance,’ focused on modern Muslim consumers who are more informed, more sophisticated and more selective in their choice of products.

Panellists included Dr Jonathan Wilson, from the University of Greenwich in the UK and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Islamic Marketing; Dr Hassan Bayrakdar, Managing Director, Raqam Consultancy; and Muhammad Chaudry, President & CEO, Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, who asked if it is enough for an Islamic economy company to just provide a halal alternative to an existing product or are consumers demanding more?

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre led the final session discussions which explored the next decade and how to elevate the Islamic Economy in the Muslim world’s development agenda. Focusing on the OIC Programme of Action (established in 2005) and Islamic Development Bank’s Vision 1440H (established in 2006), which are ongoing plans to further the development of Islamic finance, speakers discussed ways to forge international cooperation and build cross-border growth in the Islamic economy.

The event, sponsored by Dubai Islamic Bank, was the second in a series of three GIES Series Roundtables examining key areas of development for the Islamic economy: Ethical & Islamic Finance, Leadership for the Islamic Economy, and Wholesome and Halal Food.