His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Wednesday announced a set of initiatives to set up a comprehensive platform of Islamic economy products and services aimed at integrating Islamic economy as part of the overall Dubai economy.
The platform includes Islamic finance instruments, Islamic insurance, Islamic contracts' arbitration, Islamic food industry and trade standards (halal food), and Islamic quality management standards.
With Islamic economic principles playing a growing significance in today's global business environment, with Islamic economy size reaching $2.3 trillion and a growing community of 1.6 billion Muslims, the new initiatives are expected to further promote investments in Dubai, especially from economies spanning the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Sheikh Mohammed said that new framework for promoting Islamic economy will further strengthen the open and integrated approach of Dubai in doing business. It is expected to lend further momentum to Dubai's well-diversified economy, which is an ambitious growth path fuelled by the robust performance of its core sectors including trade, retail, tourism, aviation, hospitality, financial services and logistics in 2012.
"Our cosmopolitan outlook to doing business continues to be our economy's driving force. Adopting a modern and scientific framework for Islamic economies world-wide, here in Dubai, meets the demand from local, regional and international investors for a central hub to invest, grow and do business," said Sheikh Mohammed.
Sheikh Mohammed added that the new initiatives will further boost the economic diversification of Dubai and complement Dubai's pioneering approach to Islamic economy, having established the world's first Islamic bank in the 1970s as well as the world's first Islamic financial market.
Among other initiatives announced by Sheikh Mohammed include the development of commercial standards for Islamic industries and guidelines for halal food manufacturing.
Dubai also seeks to develop Islamic quality standards for halal food approval. This will encourage the food industry and promote linkages with global and regional businesses, as well as different business sectors including transport, storage and handling.
Sheikh Mohammed said the government will not compromise on its principles of openness and commitment to a free market economy.
"By strengthening Islamic economic principles as an integral part of our overall approach to growth and development, we are further supporting the entrepreneurial community, especially from the Arab world," he said.
Dubai has the robust infrastructure to serve as the centre of the Islamic economies across the Middle East and North Africa. Geographically too, the city has the advantage of serving as a vital link between the West and the East. Dubai International Airport - the world's fourth busiest hub for international passengers - receives more than 55 million passengers yearly.
Dubai's non-oil foreign trade reached over Dh1 trillion in the first ten months of 2012, about 13 per cent more than the same period in 2011.
Sheikh Hamdan commissioned to oversee Islamic economy sector
Sheikh Mohammed has issued a decree commissioning Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, CrownPrince of Dubai, to oversee the development of the Islamic economy sector in the emirate.
Sheikh Mohammed also approved the setting up of a high committee tasked with the development of the Islamic economy sector in Dubai. The committee will operate in accordance with an integrated system to develop the new sector.
The committee will be chaired by the Chairman of Sheikh Mohammed 's Executive Office, Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, with the Director General of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, Sami Al Qamzi, as Vice Chairman. Other members of the committee include the Vice Chairman of the Higher Board of the Dubai International Financial Centre, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, the Director General of Dubai Municipality, Hussein Nasser Lootah, the Director General of the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charity Work in Dubai, Dr. Hamad bin Al Sheikh Ahmed Al Sheibani, the Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, and the Chief Executive of Dubai's Noor Islamic Bank, Hussein Al Qamzi, in addition to the Chairman of the Dubai Financial Market, Essa Kazim, who will serve as the committee's Secretary General.
The decree states that the committee may co-opt other members that it deems suitable to help it to achieve its objectives.
Dubai can become world capital of Islamic economy: Sheikh Hamdan
The secret behind Dubai's success is the innovative vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, has said.
Tasked with the supervision of the development of Islamic economy to become one of the basic components of Dubai's economy, Sheikh Hamdan said: "The innovative vision of Sheikh Mohammed compels us to think in different and innovative ways so as to achieve the goals put forward by Sheikh Mohammed. They oblige all institutions and departments operating in Dubai to work as a team."
He added, "I am optimistic about achieving the goal of Dubai becoming the world capital of Islamic economy. Dubai has sufficient experience, state-of-the-art infrastructure and has a strategic geographical location in the heart of the Islamic world. It also has the will and determination, but has, the most important of all, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who leads Dubai with all wisdom, confidence and resolve for the future."
‘Islamic economy initiative will take UAE to new heights’
The '’Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy’ initiative constitutes an important qualitative addition that will take the national economy to new heights, according to Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water.
The minister said the initiative reflects Sheikh Mohammed's long-term strategic vision for boosting the prominent standing the UAE, in general, and Dubai, in particular, occupy as a regional and international financial hub, building on advanced corporate and legislative infrastructure maintained by Dubai due to accumulated wealth of expertise in Islamic economy.
The UAE, he noted, was among the leading countries which provided world class Shariah-compliant financial services and products that cater to demands of millions of customers.
The initiative, he said, would consolidate the UAE's position in the trade and production of Halal products and services amid the rapid growing of the market to more than $8 billion by 2020 from less than $4 billion in 2010.
He affirmed the ministry would play an effective role along with other partners and stakeholders in implementing the initiative.
He cited the UAE's leading role and efforts - through its presidency of the technical committee for Halal food standards of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) - in crafting international Halal foods standards.
As chairman of the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC), the UAE, guided and inspired by Sheikh Mohammed's vision, will strive to develop international legislations, regulations and standards for Halal foods.
Sheikha Lubna lauds Islamic economy vision as ‘promising’
Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, on Wednesday praised the announcement of Sheikh Mohammed for integrating Islamic economy as a key sector of Dubai economy as a 'promising step forward’ to boost assets and gains made by Dubai over the recent years.
Sheikha Lubna the move would build on Dubai's success based on a well-planned vision to push economic diversification drive forward and create new sectors that support the accelerating pace of developmental, economic and social progress.
The UAE with its successful economic diversification policies, the minister affirmed, had become a premier investment melting pot buoyed by a vibrant diversified base for Islamic economy and other Shariah-compliant activities like Sukuk.
Moreover, she added the UAE serves as a global hub for Islamic banking with increasing number of banks playing major roles in funding and developing projects in the region and beyond.
''Sheikh Mohammed's initiative carries the inclusive perspective for contemporary development and economic growth both Dubai and the UAE are currently witnessing,'' Sheikh Lubna added, calling on investors wishing to establish projects and strike deals in consistence with Shariah principles to take advantage of support and sponsorship provided by the wise leadership in the framework of its quest to leverage the Islamic economy as tributary of UAE national economy.
Sheikha Lubna noted that her ministry delegations had been approached during foreign tours by investors who wanted to launch Shariah-compliant investment in the UAE in general and Dubai in particular given the diverse options and instruments on offer.