Monday 30, May 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: The 1st China-UAE Conference on Islamic Banking & Finance held under the theme ‘Islamic Banking and Finance: Perspectives, Challenges and Sustainable Impact’ recently concluded at the Diaoyutai State Guest House Fanghuayuan Estate in Beijing, China. Organized by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University’s (HBMSU) Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking and Finance and Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) in cooperation with China Islamic Finance Club and ZhiShang Intercultural Communication and in partnership with Thomson Reuters, the event gathered senior decision makers, experts, leaders, and researchers specializing in Islamic banking and finance from the UAE and China to discuss current emerging trends and challenges in the industry today as well as tackle joint collaborative opportunities to globally promote Islamic economics.

Fahd al-Saadi, HBMSU’s Vice Chancellor for Institutional Resources & Services, officially opened the conference by delivering a welcome remark on behalf of HBMSU Chancellor Dr. Mansoor Al Awar.

The Chancellor emphasized the forum’s significance with regard to the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the capital of global Islamic economy, an initiative being led by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and HBMSU President. He further explained that the first-ever China-UAE conference on the Islamic economy was held as a follow-up to last year’s visit of H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to China to strengthen the two countries’ economic, cultural, social, and diplomatic ties.

Dr. Al Awar said: “The 1st China-UAE Conference on Islamic Banking & Finance is of great importance in stimulating efforts to advance Islamic banking and finance in both the UAE and the Republic of China. The gathering comes at a time when major global economies are now re-examining their traditional finance system in accordance with their goal to attain a sustainable economic development. This is also in light of the growing Islamic banking and finance sector in the wake of the latest financial crisis. We are pleased with the conference’s broad feedback and positive results in exploring and discussing major challenges and prospects that could shape the future of the industry globally, while also focusing on stimulating innovation and creativity in the industry in order to enhance the overall Islamic banking experience.”

A total of 11 keynote addresses were delivered throughout the conference, reflecting the experiences of Dubai in developing the Islamic economy; the development of Islamic Finance in China; cooperation between China, the UAE and the wider Middle East region; and tourism and hospitality with a focus on forging a new partnership based on the ‘Belt and Road’ strategy. Among the high-profile speakers were Prof. Nabil Baydoun, Vice Chancellor for Enterprise & University Advancement at HBMSU; Mr. Li Jiping, Executive VP of China Association for the Promotion of Development Financing; and Mr. Xie Wenbin, President of the Xinjiang Eurasian Research Institute.

There were also four panel sessions – two per day – as well as interactive seminars highlighting several key areas of mutual interest held during the event. One of the most notable subjects discussed during the opening day was the ‘Development of Islamic Finance in China’ by Ms. Cheng Manjiang, Chief Economist and Global Head of Research Department, BOC International. Ms. Cheng explained how Islamic Finance could boost cooperation and economic alliances between countries along Silk Road routes, Central Asia, the Arabian Gulf, and a large part of the Middle East. She also discussed means to firmly establish Islamic banking in the Chinese market.

The initiative called ‘Dubai, the global capital of Islamic economy’ was also highlighted on the first day, in addition to the main challenges and opportunities in the current financial climate. Other topics of discussions included China’s sustainable development strategy and ongoing efforts to reinforce the UAE-China cooperation in Islamic finance and other important fields.

The second day of the conference was also full of high-level discussions on key topics such as the viability of Sukuk as a possible avenue for China’s planned infrastructure financing funds; tourism and hospitality from the Islamic perspective; prospects for the Islamic finance sector’s growth in Hong Kong; and global challenges to the growth of the Takaful Sector, among others. Among the senior experts and industry professionals in attendance was Dr. Sayd Farook, Vice Chairman and CEO of Middle East Global Advisors and Advisor to the Executive Office of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum;

Thomson Reuters presented three reports covering Islamic finance development, the state of the global Islamic Economy, and the sukuk sector. There were also four Special Interest Sessions moderated by UAE experts: ‘Structuring Islamic Bond: Insider Knowledge, Implication for China’ by Mr. Moinuddin Malim, Managing Partner, Alternative International Management Services; ‘Globalization of the Islamic Insurance Sector: Opportunities for China’ by Dr. Omar Fisher, Managing Director, Khider Solutions; ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Islamic Financial Instruments in China,’ by Mr. Sohail Zubairi, CEO, Dar AL Sharia, Dubai Islamic Bank; and ‘General Regulation for the UAE National Mark’ by Mr. Tariq Abdulrahman Mohamed Zainal, Head of Surveillance-Conformity Department, Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC said: “We are gathered here today to examine ways of developing a vital sector of the Islamic economy – banking and finance. This industry, and its resilience in the face of turbulence, demonstrates values evocative of the Chinese experience of building a great nation and the historic struggle thereafter as it transitioned to a more developed economy. While we discuss the present and future of Islamic banking and finance, we need to examine not how to manage and organize financial institutions – but rather to define the core purpose of the industry and its impact on the stability of the overall economy. It would be equally relevant to understand how this industry can ensure the strength and sustainability of the other sectors. Financial institutions today -more than at any time in history- need strong governance to ensure transparency and secure the trust of their customers. At the same time, they need to comply with ethics and values that are now considered mandatory rather than optional requirements to achieve sustainability.”

“We are pleased to learn that the Chinese government is favorable to the idea of issuing sukuk to finance infrastructure projects. We believe that this move opens a new chapter in the development journey of the Chinese economy that has proved its strength and impact on the world’s finances time after time.” Al Awar added.

The China-UAE Conference on Islamic Banking & Finance is the first initiative of its kind. It aims to boost relations and joint efforts between the UAE and China in Islamic economy. This is according to the goal of HBMSU’s Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking and Finance to disseminate knowledge and lay the foundation for global Islamic finance and banking in line with the UAE leaders’ directives to make Dubai the capital of global Islamic economy.