DUBAI / Emirates Business
The third installment of the Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) is set to take place on October 11 and 12 at Madinat Jumeirah to discuss the developments occurring on the Islamic Economy front.
Bearing the theme “Inspiring Change” and endorsed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the summit is organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, with Thomson Reuters as a Strategic Partner.
The Global Islamic Economy Summit seeks to cement Dubai’s position as a capital for the Islamic economy and provide an integrated platform for decision makers and specialists to discuss key issues and major trends in Islamic economy in the region and the world.
All in all, this year’s event will include six plenary sessions covering, on the one hand, broad topics such as the global dynamics shaping the Islamic economy, as well as, on the other hand, more specific subjects such as Islamic finance and sukuk. In addition to that, the summit will host parallel sessions discussing Islamic economic sectors from halal products and modest fashion to family tourism and Islamic art. These sessions aim to find practical and sustainable solutions for the challenges that the Islamic economy faces.
His Excellency Majid Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman, Dubai Chamber, and Board Member of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, said: “The fact that influential leaders, decision makers, and experts in key economic sectors have all converged in Dubai for the Global Islamic Economy Summit only goes to prove the emirate’s position as a true capital for the Islamic economy. It reflects the tremendous efforts exerted by Dubai to shed light on the concepts and mechanisms of the Islamic economy. The summit’s main topics are broad and comprehensive and, thus, allow for an open discussion about the components of the Islamic economy, all the while shedding a light on innovative solutions to confront the challenges that face the global economy today and achieve sustainable development.”
Meanwhile, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, added: “This year’s summit tackles themes and strategic issues that are relevant to both local and international stakeholders and, therefore, call for in-depth discussion to map out a clear future for the global economy – not just the Islamic domain.
“Given the fact that each sector of the Islamic economy offers incredible potential to impact the overall economic culture, GIES 2016 will help further clarify its many nuances. We are confident that a renewed understanding of the sector will greatly benefit all segments of society, particularly the youth to help them apply the knowledge gained for achieving sustainable social and economic development. We believe that with greater clarity comes greater appreciation – inspiring people to adopt moral principles that makes this responsible economic model unique in all respects.”
Nadim Najjar, Managing Director, MENA, Thomson Reuters, said: “The current global economic climate and the search for new underserved markets has brought a fresh spotlight onto the various sectors of the Islamic Economy. The convergence of the Shariah compliant industries is likely to be a new engine of growth that engages both the Muslim and non-Muslim economies across the world.”
DAY ONE – PLENARY SESSIONS
Day one of the summit will kick off with the first plenary session – titled “Today’s youth, tomorrow’s leaders: scalable solutions to empower the next generation” – discuss ways to mould young Muslims into adaptable leaders and productive members of their communities and equip them to assume transformational roles in the Muslim world and beyond. With the Muslim youth segment growing at twice the rate of its global counterpart, governments in Islamic countries are faced with unique challenges as they work to create opportunities that cater to the young generation’s aspirations and ambitions.
The second plenary session of the first day, meanwhile, will take on the subject of philanthropy in the Islamic world, shedding light on the successes of philanthropy and endowments in developed markets, which have adopted innovative models to ensure high returns and a strong social impact. On the flip side, Islamic charity funds face many difficulties as they generate low returns and generally have minimal social impact on the societies they are meant to support. The session will also explore effective strategies for managing Islamic charity funds in a way that creates real impact in modern society.
The first day will see a third plenary session tackle the topic of blended finance – the optimal mixture of multilateral financial institution (MFI), infrastructure fund allocations, private sector investment, and charitable grants. The session explores the role of wealthy Muslim governments, sovereign wealth funds, and Islamic financial institutions in moving towards achieving the sustainable development goals within a realistic timeframe.
The afternoon sessions will run in parallel – two by two. The first pair of sessions will look into the evolution of Islamic art and the international halal market, respectively. The first session will explore the aesthetic transformation and investment appeal of Islamic art. The scope of Islamic art has expanded widely in recent years to encompass contemporary works by Middle Eastern artists drawing inspiration from their cultural heritage and using techniques and materials from earlier periods in an attempt to repurpose Islamic art. Moreover, Islamic art is also proving to be a rewarding investment; Tutela Capital reveals that the average price in 2015 for ancient Islamic artefacts sold at auction stood at nearly $20,000. As for the halal industry session, participants will look at halal products from a pure economic angle. At present, countries belonging to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation import up to half of their vegetables, a third (33%) of processed foods, and 19% of animal products.
The second pair of parallel sessions will conclude the first day of the summit. The first discussion will examine the role of social media in promoting modest Islamic fashion. Several start-ups are harnessing the reach of digital channels to establish themselves in this market – valued at a staggering $243 billion in 2015 – and breaking down the traditional barriers to entry in the process. The second parallel session, in the meantime, will ask whether sukuk can deliver a way out of global economic uncertainty. As the plummet in oil prices, and political and economic uncertainty continue to take their toll on government budgets, sukuk could offer governments an alternative avenue to fund their projects.
DAY TWO – PLENARY SESSIONS AND “ASPIRE TALK”
Day two will kick off with the fourth plenary session of the summit, which will tackle the digitisation of the banking sector and examine whether Islamic banks are equipped to handle these swift transformations – especially given that the global banking sector, which has undergone various transformations since the nineties, has been slow to adopt innovation and technology in the past decade. Some experts have even questioned the significance of traditional banking institutions in the future.
Next on the agenda for day two is the “Aspire Talk” session, which will look at Dubai, the brand. Through “Brand Dubai”, the emirate has succeeded in evoking collective emotions about the city and influencing how people around the world feel about it, whether they have visited it or not.
The fifth plenary session of the event concludes the morning activities for the second day. The session will look at start-ups in the Islamic economy; despite tremendous challenges, a handful of visionary entrepreneurs have succeeded at captivating Muslim investors and commercialising their products and services. The panel asks: How these Muslim-market start-ups transform themselves into multi-million dollar businesses and what is required for them to reach the next stage of development?
As in day one, participants in GIES will have to choose one of two of four parallel sessions to attend in the afternoon. The first pair of sessions will talk about reviving Islamic art and design, and crowdfunding in the Islamic economy, respectively. The first session will discuss the non-traditional applications of Islamic art in the Muslim world and beyond – the scope of Islamic art has indeed expanded in recent years to include residential and commercial architecture, museums and art galleries, and even corporate branding and cultural identity. The second discussion, meanwhile, explores ways to accelerate the adoption of crowdfunding and use it to bridge the funding gap in Muslim markets. According to figures from the World Bank, crowdfunding has evolved into a $16 billion market, mainly concentrated in North America and Europe. In developing countries however, crowdfunding was estimated to be worth $327 million in 2015 – only 2% of the global total.
The second pair of parallel sessions for day two includes a discussion titled “The Gen Z effect: can the Islamic economy meet post-millennial expectations?”, which examines whether the Islamic economy is equipped to cater to the world’s youngest population and if governments in Muslim countries can meet post-millennial expectations when it comes to employment, education and government services. The second session explores the subject of experiential tourism seeing as over the past few years, the Muslim travel market has rightly focused on family tourism, which was estimated to be worth $151 billion in 2015 and forecast to surpass $243billion by 2021
In the final session of the summit, participants will explore whether the Islamic economy can skip the third industrial revolution – the introduction of technology and communication has presented a unique opportunity to avoid some of the traditional development phases and move directly to the technology revolution.