Sheikh Mohammed: Dubai hits first goal of strategy to become Islamic economy hub

Dubai has overtaken Malaysia and London for the listing of Islamic bonds on its exchanges



Dubai has achieved the first goal of its strategy aimed at making the emirate the global capital of Islamic economy, the UAE’s VP and PM and Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has said.

His remarks came after a report showed that Dubai has overtaken other financial centres for listing Islamic bonds on its exchanges.

Sukuk listed on Dubai’s two exchanges, Nasdaq Dubai and Dubai Financial Market, rose to $36.7bn (Dhs 134.38bn) in 2015, Reuters reported, quoting a study by Nasdaq Dubai.

That’s much higher compared to the three traditionally biggest sukuk centres – Malaysia had $26.6bn listed on Bursa Malaysia and the Labuan free trade zone; the Irish Stock Exchange saw sukuk listings of $25.7bn and the London Stock Exchange had $25.1bn.

“When we launched our plan to become the world’s capital of Islamic economy two years ago, some brothers had doubts. But today we have achieved the first goal even before the date we had set. We have a clear vision for our next achievement in 2020,” official news agency WAM quoted Sheikh Mohammed as saying.

Chairing a meeting of the board of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, he added: “Islamic finance is the most important sector of Islamic economy and sukuk are one of the most important tools of this sector. Today we are the world’s biggest centres for sukuk, but our vision is even wider and more comprehensive as it takes in seven major sectors of Islamic economy.”

Sheikh Mohammed first announced plans to make Dubai the global hub for Islamic economy in 2013, with a focus on sectors including banking and asset management, trade, food preparation and certification, fashion, education and tourism.

In December the same year, the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre was set up to aid the emirate’s ambitions.

The centre’s chairman Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gargawi said the emirate was moving ahead of time to achieve its goal.

“We have an extensive and solid relationship with a wide range of international investors. We also have one of the world’s best regulatory and procedural environments. We have a clear plan that is backed by all government departments. We expect action in all Islamic economic sectors to pick up speed in the coming period to achieve the goals that we set in 2013, before 2020.”

According to a report by Thomson Reuters and Dubai authorities, the global Islamic economy has a potential value of $6.7 trillion and is bigger than most of the economies in the world except China and the United States.

The report estimates that Muslim consumers’ global expenditure on the media, food, and lifestyle sectors such as cosmetics and tourism is forecast to touch $2.47 trillion by 2018.

“Thanks to its steady growth, increasing assets and straightforward principles, Islamic economy has become an established reality within the system of global economy,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

“Through the huge economic opportunities and the massive partnerships that it can create, Islamic economy can provide a key to further stability and development in our region.”