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    Dubai to lead Islamic economy

    Global thought leaders discuss the future of vibrant sector

    Dubai has potential to lead the Islamic economy and the first ever Global Islamic Economy Summit provide an ideal platform to lay the foundations for a strong and vibrant global Islamic business community, the speakers and delegates said on Monday.

    His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated the two-day summit, which was attended by over 3,000 delegates from the worlds of academia, business, government and civil society.

    Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; Shaikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, ministers and top government officials also attended the opening session of the summit.

    Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer in his keynote address said that the Islamic finance industry has witnessed a double-digit growth due to rising demand in key segments including Islamic finance, travel and tourism, food and pharmaceutical, digital economy and others.

    Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and Chief Executive Hamad Buamim gave the welcome remarks, which were followed by the first plenary session of the summit and a discussion on the impact of the Islamic Economy on an evolving global economic landscape.

    “We have the opportunity now to lay the foundations for a strong and vibrant global Islamic business community that is united under the same religion,” Buamim, said.

    “Working with global partners, Dubai is seeking to bring the Muslim world together under the concept of the Islamic economy. This is a huge task, and one that we have a tight timescale to achieve. But today is a major step forward in realising this ambition. We hope that this event will define and set the standard for future advances in this new economic landscape,” he added.

    Mohammed Al Shihhi, undersecretary, Ministry of Economy; Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Dr Sapta Nirwander, Deputy Minister, Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy; Ambassador Mouhamdou Doudou Lo, Director-General, Department of Economic Affairs, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Saudi Arabia, participated in the preliminary session. The panel provided attendees with insight into the leaders of the Islamic world, their vision for the future and the key priorities that will shape the development of the Islamic world.

    “The UAE, being at the centre of the Islamic world and a gateway between Europe and Africa can be a major player when it comes to the globalisation of the Islamic economy. The word globalisation is very important here — the resilience and soundness of the Islamic economic model is not exclusive to the Muslim world. For instance, 50 per cent of Islamic Finance customers in Malaysia are non-Muslims. We are hoping that this event will make it clear to the world that the Islamic economy model is not exclusive to the Muslim population, but rather a model for the world,” Al Shihhi said.

    The second plenary session ‘Beyond halal food and Islamic finance’ started with an overview of key insights from the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report followed by opening remarks from Essa Kazim, Chairman of Borse Dubai; Chairman of Dubai Financial Market; Secretary General of the Islamic Economy Higher Committee, UAE.

    “The Islamic economy strategy capitalises on the vast opportunities available in the Islamic economy, particularly in the financial sector and the real economy sector — halal, lifestyle, pharmaceuticals, etc. The estimated GDP of the Islamic economy is about $8 trillion and the total foreign trade of the Muslim world amounts to $4 trillion. However there seems to be a huge gap between sukuk issues for instance, and global demand. This gives you an idea of the vast and untapped potential available in the Islamic economy,” Kazim said.

    Dr Mark Mobius, executive chairman, Templeton Emerging Markets, Singapore, said the rise of the Islamic emerging markets has led to a “new normal” for the global economy. “One of the interesting things that we’re seeing is the rise of global sovereign wealth funds; we now estimate that they account for $6 trillion of global assets and 42 per cent of sovereign wealth funds now come from Islamic nations,” he said.

    Khalid Howladar, senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service, said Islamic finance has a very limited impact on global economy today, but many of the world’s rapidly growing economies are Islamic and have policy goals to support the sector.

    “So islamic finance will grow in importance over time. The sector is growing faster than in conventional retail. This is particularly true in the Middle East where there is a preference for Islamic finance and where product offerings are generally more aligned. Islamic governments are also supportive of the sector which helps to drive growth.”

    About the the UK drive to attract Islamic finance and sukuk opportunities, he said: “Very effective. The UK hosting the World Islamic Ecomomic Forum, planning sukuk issuance, as well as the prime minister’s personal endorsement, all demonstrate the UK’s commitment to the sector.”

    The official awards ceremony was also conducted in the presence of Shaikh Mohammed, which was also attended by a panel of senior ministers and policy makers lead by Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The summit is jointly hosted by Thomson Reuters and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Indu§stry.

    Shaikh Mohammed gave Islamic Economy awards to 14 winners in various categories. Ahmad Ali Al Madani, President of the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    A number of studies and information solutions were launched at the summit, including, “The State of the Global Islamic Economy 2013 Report”.

    (Khaleej Times)

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