Dubai / EMIRATES BUSINESS
The inaugural Commonwealth of Independent States Global Business Forum (CIS GBF 2016) concluded in Dubai with the overarching recommendation of embracing the UAE model of economic diversification to prepare CIS for the post-oil era and to strengthen their economic competitiveness.
Organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on the theme, ‘Ancient Routes – New Opportunities,’ the two-day event welcomed over 1,000 delegates from 50 countries. More than 100 bilateral meetings were held as part of the Forum, in addition to two days of intense discussions, to promote trade and economic links between the UAE and the CIS.
The key recommendations of the Forum for the CIS by experts included a call to draw on and benefit from the experience of the UAE in the areas of Smart government for formulating policies that will strengthen governmental excellence and contribute to the happiness of the people.
The Forum also underlined the urgent need for diversification of the economy as well as sources of investment, and to reduce the dependence on natural resources to mitigate the adverse impact of price fluctuations.
Experts also recommended the importance of amending/formulating regulations and legislations to conform to global variables, and to provide a transparent environment that will ensure that the interests and rights of investors are protected.
Finally, the Forum called on the need to promote innovation and leverage advanced technologies to strengthen the New Silk Road. Islamic finance is set to gain traction in the under-served Commonwealth of Independent States with concerted efforts to drive grassroots level education covering all stakeholder groups, and the governments increasingly resolving to implement adequate regulations and legislations, said experts at the first CIS Global Business Forum in Dubai.
During a panel discussion on ‘Funding the Future – Islamic Finance in the CIS,’ the panelists reiterated the role that Islamic Banking can play in funding core infrastructure development, agriculture and other growth sectors in the CIS.
Behnam Gurbanzada, Chief Executive Officer, B.EST Solutions, Islamic Financing Consultant and Member of the Azerbaijan CIS Islamic Banking Advisory Council, said plans are afoot to introduce Islamic banking regulations in the country. He added that while the workflow was “not too fast,” in the past, in the current economic environment, there is a greater focus to bring real banking solutions with a focus on customers.
Prasad Abraham, Chief Executive Officer of Al Hilal Bank in Kazakhstan, highlighted the success achieved by the bank in a span of just five years in securing strong retained clients. He said the bank’s ‘bold and decisive’ initiative to be a first mover in Islamic banking in the CIS region has been underpinned by concerted efforts to educate all stakeholders – starting with university students.
Citing the nascent to non-existent regulatory environment in the region, Abraham said the expansion of its Islamic banking services to other countries in the CIS is being limited because “legislation has not reached the level that is acceptable.
Nida Raza, Director of Advisory Services, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, Islamic Development Bank, Saudi Arabia, said that for any foreign financial institution to thrive, it takes an adequate regulatory environment supported by the government and the Central Bank, and real demand. It is extremely important to educate the public on the concept of Islamic banking, which is popularised under different names such as participatory banking and non-interest banking in different countries.