JEDDAH - Saudi businessmen expressed solidarity with the local academe for the propagation of Islamic finance in Europe, making Spain as its hub.
According to Dr. Abdullah Q. Turkistani, director of Islamic Economic Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, no less than the chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) showed strong support for the promotion of Islamic finance in Europe and Latin America through the Center of Islamic Economics and Finance (CIEF) which was established in Madrid last year under the collaborative efforts of the King Abdulaziz University and the Instituto de Empresa (IE) University in Madrid.
He said the visit of Dr. Rafael Puyol Antolin, president, IE University and Joe Luis Perez Estevez, director, CIEF last Saturday to King Abdulaziz University and the meeting with officials of JCCI the following day was fruitful, with the chamber officials manifesting their desire to participate in the upcoming conference in Madrid slated on June 16-17.
The two-day meeting titled “Beyond the Crisis: Islamic Finance in the New Financial Order” is “unique”, said Estevez, as “there won’t be main speakers. Instead, the participants will be divided into working groups to tackle issues” confronting Islamic finance and come up with summary, course of action and conclusion at the end of the second day.
Some 30 international Islamic finance experts will join in the forum that will begin at the Madrid Stock Exchange.
The conference will focus on banking and insurance, Islamic finance products, new technologies and public and government sectors.
Estevez stressed that there is a dramatic interest in the Islamic finance system since it “does not need radical change” as compared to conventional financial practices.
It is more resilient that the latter, he added, with “built-in stability features,” though “it needs level playing field” vis-à-vis the conventional.
He pointed out that CIEF Madrid is strategically located, as it serves as a bridge to Latin American countries as well as to Europe, notwithstanding Spain’s Arab heritage.
He further said in the long run, CIEF will not only serve as the center for spreading awareness on Islamic economics, but would also serve as a conduit for exchange students.
The CIEF “makes a lot of sense in Europe” as it will let people know about the “ethical” financial system. He said at present, Europe’s knowledge about Islamic finance “is very limited,” hence “a lot of lessons could be applied.”
“The seminar in June is good both for the companies, academia and the government sectors to meet each other and understand” the system, he noted.
Dr. Ahmed Belouafi, assistant professor and researcher, Islamic Economics Research Center, added that though Islamic finance constitutes only one percent of the global finance, with approximately $1 trillion in global assets, yet the demand is dramatic because of its distinctive features, such of asset-backed finance where the credit facility is linked to particular activity or project and is transparent, among others.
The CIEF endeavors to strengthen the foundations and capacity of Islamic finance to contribute toward global growth.
In a meeting at Economic Research Center, King Abdulaziz University last Saturday, Turkistani said that the Center will, in the near future, be elevated to become the International Institute for Islamic Economic and Finance that would offer masters degree and online courses and at the same time provide professional certificates in Islamic finance.
He added that the center increases awareness on Islamic finance by going to malls and presents the topic there, saying that it plans to encourage “gifted students” to have doctorate degrees. – By Querubin J. Mi?as