Ethica Joins Dubai Business Leaders at Islamic Economy Forum

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Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance joins major business leaders at the Industry and University Partnership Forum 2014 to identify key levers for jumpstarting Dubai's Islamic Economy

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In Islamic finance, we don’t need more institutions, we need more quality. The level of Islamic finance training is either too academic, and therefore not sufficiently practical, or too far removed from Islamic finance.

Dubai’s leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, targets 2016 as the year Dubai should establish itself as the capital of the $8 trillion global Islamic economy. What this means in practical terms for the world’s 2 billion Muslims was the main topic of the recent Industry and University Partnership (I-UP) Forum 2014, bringing together major business and academic leaders across Dubai.

Standard & Poors, Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance, Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, and others were among those at the forum, and focused on the acute skill gap across industries identified in a recent Deloitte study. Roundtables were organized with delegates from academia, industry, and government to formulate road maps.

Ethica commented on the need for more internship opportunities and other job creation initiatives. Azhar A Mirza, CEO, of Jardine Human Capital, noted, “Ethica is at the front lines of job training and they made some important points. There seems to be a lack of job creation in the space. To an outsider and on the charts and tables there is a perception that there are plenty of job opportunities in the space. The reality is far different. There are in fact exceptionally well qualified and experienced individuals who are unable to find positions in suitable organizations. Companies are simply unwilling to offer internship or work experience opportunities.”

In addition to a need for more hiring opportunities, delegates discussed the need for legitimate third-party standards. As one delegate noted, at the center of an Islamic economy is Islamic finance. As some in the Islamic finance industry have said, if Dubai seeks to establish itself as the capital of the Islamic economy, it must first begin regulating its owns banks for minimal Shariah compliance, at least to AAOIFI, the leading Islamic finance standard followed by over 90 percent of the world’s Islamic finance jurisdictions. Basic AAOIFI-compliance will be a central component of an Islamic economy.

Dubai has grown so fast that what it lacked in well-qualified human capital it often made up in infrastructure. To rise to the next level of leadership, Dubai must now show its depth. As one Islamic finance analyst responded when asked whether Dubai needed more Islamic finance institutions, “In Islamic finance, we don’t need more institutions, we need more quality. The level of Islamic finance training is either too academic, and therefore not sufficiently practical, or too far removed from Islamic finance, focusing entirely on banking, as the case in most universities with strong finance programs but almost no complementary Islamic finance program.”

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Sameer Hasan
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