DAFZA and International Centre of Islamic Economy partner to drive global Islamic economic growth through innovation

As part of the fruitful cooperation between Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) and the International Centre of Islamic Economy, the ‘International Innovative Platform for Islamic Economic Products 2016’ successfully concluded today (Wednesday, November 23, 2016) at the DAFZA Business Center. The event, which kicked off on November 22, aimed to support the on-going development of innovative products and further inspire creative ideas to ensure growth in the global Islamic economy. Attracting high regional and international interest, the two-day event showcased the latest innovations in Islamic economics and featured experts, innovators, and decision-makers from various government entities and economic and financial institutions. During the event, specialists shared their knowledge in turning innovation-based initiatives into a main driver of Islamic economic growth.


The ‘International Innovative Platform for Islamic Economic Products 2016’ is in accordance with the goals of UAE Innovation Week 2016, a national initiative designed to encourage investments in innovation. Innovation has become a major part of the UAE’s integrated government system, socio-cultural environment, and public policies. The event saw the participation of renowned keynote speakers, which included H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Zarouni, Director General of DAFZA; His Eminence Dr. Abdulrahman Bin Saleh Al-Atram, President of the International Center of Islamic Economy FZE; and H.E. Abdulla Al Awar, CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC).


Titled ‘Presenting Products,’ the sessions on the first day highlighted the latest leading innovations in ‘Awqaf Sukuk’ and ‘Preference Shares and Sukuk’ and have been graced by economic experts. They were composed of Dr. Said Bouheraoua, Senior Researcher at International Shar’iah Research Academy for Islamic Finance; H.E. Tayeb Al Rais, Secretary General of the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation; Husain Benyounis, Secretary General of Awqaf New Zealand; Jack Nichols, Managing Associate in Linklaters’ International Governance and Development Practices; Prof. Mohammed Al Suhabani, Professor at SABIC Chair for Islamic Financial Markets Studies at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University; Prof. Dr. Osaid Mohammed Kilani, Global Head of Shar’iah at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank; Dr. Nader Naifar, Associate Professor of Finance at Al Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University; and Ayman Al-Ateeqi, a partner in a Venture Capital Fund. Two workshops on ‘Awqaf Sukuk’ and ‘Preference Shares and Sukuk’ were held on the second day titled ‘Implementation, Finance Opportunities and Planning’ and ‘Advantages, Challenges Establishing and Structuring,’ respectively.


Dr. Al Zarouni said that the second edition sustained the first edition’s remarkable success. The event is an important platform to explore new and innovative products designed to drive the Islamic economic system. He pointed out that DAFZA, along with the International Centre of Islamic Economy, remains committed to the directives of the country’s wise leaders in terms of promoting innovation, science and knowledge, as well as accelerating Dubai’s transformation into a global capital of Islamic economy.


He added: “Through our global platform, we hope to encourage investments in creative ideas designed to support the development of local financial and banking services and products according to Shari’a law. The event has reinforced cooperation, integration and coordination between the public and private sectors. Additionally, we reaffirm our keenness to contribute to the national efforts to put Dubai and the UAE on the global Islamic economic map. This is under the support and wise guidance of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, who aims to make the Islamic economy a vital contributor to the country’s economic diversification policy in preparation for a sustainable, innovative, and knowledge-driven post-oil era.”


For his part, H.E. Dr. Abdulrahman Al Atram, said: “The event’s highly successful first edition has made the ‘International Innovative Platform for Islamic Economics Products’ a fundamental pillar of innovation. It has become an integrated methodology to bring the Islamic economy to the next level of growth and prosperity by using innovation as a tool to overcome obstacles in the face of building an integrated and sustainable economy.”


“We are happy to partner again with DAFZA, one of the world’s most innovative free zones, to create an interactive communication platform for decision-makers, government officials, and executives of economic and financial institutions. Both sides aim to develop a specific mechanism to inspire innovators to develop new ideas and create unique products and services, enable the global economy to keep up with the rapid global changes, and contribute to the ambitious national development goals. We are determined to push forward the country’s global leadership in developing initiatives and applications designed for the global Islamic economy,” he added.


H.E. Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO, Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, said: “Innovation in Islamic economics is the driving force behind more efficient economic transactions between people and between different systems. Today, the International Innovative Platform for Islamic Economy Products is regarded as a leading platform for reinforcing confidence in the ability of Islamic economics to carry out its mission, which has become a persistent need among many people around the globe. In envisioning the provision of a decent life for all based on the principles of justice and equality, the Islamic economy has proven that it is capable of developing, expanding and achieving its development goals, as long as the parties involved intensify their efforts to foster a culture of innovation in all respective sectors. The Islamic economy has become a fertile ground for the growth of creative and responsible ideas more than any other type of economy, due to its ability to produce promising opportunities through its various sectors, including production, the digital economy, and the halal banking, arts, designing and tourism.”


Mohammed Qasim Al-Ali, CEO, National Bonds, said: “There is an urgent need to nurture a culture of innovation among today’s youths who will be responsible for developing the Islamic finance and investments industry which has proven its ability to provide sustainable solutions to financial challenges and ensure financial security. The International Innovative Platform for Islamic Economy Products will play a pivotal role in highlighting the enormous potentials of the Islamic economy and institutions involved in the development of the Islamic financial sector. We are fully committed to continuing our efforts to foster a Sharia-compliant investment and savings culture. We have already created many successful products that have helped individuals and institutions manage their funds and resources in line with their unique needs and aspirations. Rest assured that the Islamic financial culture remains flexible and highly responsive to current and future changes.


Participants were also introduced to ‘Awqaf Sukuk,’ a product developed based on an innovative and highly professional philosophy that is consistent with the human development approach and Shari’a regulations. The new product is considered an integrated approach to promote Awqaf and other social projects. The concept of ‘Awqaf Sukuk’ is aimed towards collecting funds from issuance, which may be ‘permanent or temporary’ cash waqf. The product ‘Awqaf Sukuk’ is structured in accordance with the requirements of social and developmental projects and the requirements of financial market authorities. The product supports the ongoing efforts to address the growing need to innovate and develop new financial tools in the Awqaf market, in compliance with international financial market standards.


During the event, participants were also familiarized with the ‘Preference Shares and Sukuk’ product, which complies with Islamic Sharia law and is developed to help attract new investors who have different preferences or expectations on revenues and risks, in comparison with ordinary shareholders. The product does not impair the rights of ordinary shareholders when it comes to revenues or control of the company in comparison with issuance of new ordinary shares, but it rather aims to achieve the target revenue rate with lesser risks by increasing investor engagement in company profits until company profit reaches a level of which it can achieve target rate and then their engagement percentage decreases respectively.


The ‘International Innovative Platform for Islamic Economics Products 2016’ is sponsored by the National Bonds and supported by Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), SABIC Chair for Islamic Financial Markets Studies, Awqaf New Zealand and ISRA Consultancy. The headquarters of the International Centre of Islamic Economy is located at DAFZA, as part of a strategic partnership to develop and promote products and services specific to Islamic economy and contribute to the efforts of helping make Dubai the Capital of Islamic Economy. The first edition of the ‘International Innovative Platform for Islamic Economic Products’ attracted more than 300 leading economic and financial experts, decision-makers, and government officials, all of whom developed a set of mechanisms to ensure that creative ideas would help drive growth in the global Islamic economy.


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