UK sector still ‘thin’ on Islamic finance teaching

Despite government optimism over UK’s future role, university provision remains limited, forum hears British universities do not have “strength in depth” in the teaching of Islamic finance, an economic forum has heard, casting doubt on a recent government pledge for the UK to lead the West in the banking practice.

UK sector still ‘thin’ on Islamic finance teaching

UK sector still ‘thin’ on Islamic finance teaching

To coincide with the World Islamic Economic Forum held in London last week, the government announced plans to issue a £200 million sukuk, or Islamic bond, which would be the first to be issued by a non-Muslim country.

Islamic finance forbids the charging of interest, and instead uses other mechanisms to allow the lending of money.

The City of London can become the “unrivalled Western centre for Islamic finance”, the chancellor George Osborne argued last week.

The UK “has more than a dozen universities or business schools offering executive courses in Islamic finance”, Mr Osborne wrote in the Financial Times on 28 October.

But at a workshop on Islamic financial education at the forum on 31 October, Daud Vicary Abdullah, chief executive of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), a Malaysian university that specialises in the discipline, said UK expertise was “spread very thin”. “The centres of excellence in terms of education in universities…are variable,” he said.

Ten years ago, Mr Abdullah said, Loughborough University had a good reputation for teaching Islamic finance but it no longer runs a dedicated course.

“The problem is that it [Islamic finance] tends to revolve around the individuals and personalities,” he argued. “There isn’t what I would call the strength in depth to really allow the education to take off.” But through collaboration, he said, it could “take off fairly quickly”.

Set up in 2005 by the Central Bank of Malaysia, INCEIF now has 2,000 students and offers qualifications up to PhD level, Mr Abdullah noted. This year it launched a joint research initiative with Henley Business School at the University of Reading.

Julia King, vice-chancellor of Aston University, agreed that while there were “excellent centres” of Islamic finance education in the UK, it was “an area that needs to grow”.

From this year, Islamic finance was a core part of Aston’s undergraduate finance programmes, she said, and should be incorporated further into such courses.

The workshop also heard a question from a graduate of a “red-brick” university who failed to find an Islamic banking job in London despite training in the subject.

Mr Abdullah agreed that there were only a few banks in the UK interested in Islamic finance.

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The Global Islamic Economy Summit announces title sponsors

Thomson Reuters and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the organisers of the upcoming ‘Global Islamic Economy Summit’ (GIES), announced their partnership with ADIB and Dubai Islamic Bank, who are taking on the role of Title Sponsors of the event.

The Global Islamic Economy Summit announces title sponsors

The Global Islamic Economy Summit announces title sponsors

In addition, the leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company, Nestlé Middle East, signs up as Diamond Sponsor, while Emirates NBD, Qatar First Bank and the Global University of Islamic Finance (INCEIF) have also signed on as Gold Sponsors, while the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Afridi & Angell Legal Consultants, Société Générale and MasterCard have signed on as Silver Sponsors.
GIES is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. While in line with Dubai’s Islamic Economy Strategy announced by His Highness on October 5, the conference also seeks to addresses the challenges and opportunities the industry faces and its contribution to the global economy.
Russell Haworth, Managing Director – Middle East & North Africa, Thomson Reuters, said, “The calibre of sponsors supporting GIES is testament to the local and international interest in the opportunities that the Islamic Economy presents. From leading local, regional and Islamic banks that aspire to become international players, to a European bank that sees a huge opportunity in this sector, to a global food producer, education, consumer credit and legal services providers and the largest free zone in the UAE, our sponsors will be invaluable to the success of GIES.”
Tirad Al Mahmoud, CEO at A DIB said, “At A DIB, we hold an unwavering commitment to playing a role in the development of the Islamic finance industry. We are very excited to be lead supporters for The Global Islamic Economy Summit – an ideal platform to share our core values as an expanding Islamic financial services institution with the wider community in the UAE, region and beyond.”
GIES, Dr Adnan Chilwan, Chief Executive Officer of DIB said. “Being the first Islamic bank in the world, Dubai Islamic Bank is proud to play its role in the Global Islamic Economy Summit. As pioneers of Islamic banking, DIB has been at the forefront of developments in the Islamic financial sector over the past four decades. We have consistently added value to the franchise and contributed to the growth and development of all sectors of the UAE economy. Our vision of becoming the most progressive financial institution in the world is fully in line with the vision of the leadership of this great country. Today, with our rich heritage, unrivalled expertise and tradition of innovation, we are perfectly positioned to play a key role in Dubai becoming the global capital of Islamic economy.”
GIES aims to initiate critical dialogue on the development of the integrated sectors of the Islamic Economy, covering Islamic financial services, Halal food, Halal Lifestyle, Halal Travel, SME Development and Islamic Economy Infrastructure such as standardization and research.
Yves Manghardt, Chairman and CEO Nestle Middle East FZE, commented on the company’s role as a sponsor: “As the leading Nutrition Health and Wellness company, Nestlé is proud to be a partner of the Global Islamic Economy Summit. We have been pioneers in providing a wide range of Halal food options for Muslim consumers around the world, and we are delighted to be part of Dubai’s initiatives to highlight the importance of the Halal sector as a key component of the Islamic economy and culture.”
The Summit will also feature ground-breaking market studies and other announcements such as the winners of the ‘Islamic Economy Award’ which recognises a mix of regional and global leaders from 14 Islamic economy sectors.
GIES will take place on 25th – 26th November, 2013 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. GIES will gather leading thinkers, policy makers and stakeholders from around the world to lead a discussion on the future of the Islamic economy.