Islamic Finance: Dubai’s Economic Initiative


While the global financial crisis left its mark on developed and emerging markets alike, Dubai has come through the ongoing financial storm in better shape than many had expected. Despite bleak initial forecasts, Dubai remains a tourism destination, a regional base for western companies, and a transport hub. Earlier this year, the emirate also announced a new financial initiative that could position it to become an economic world leader.

In January, Dubai’s ruler, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, announced an initiative to grow Dubai’s Islamic economic sector — aiming to integrate Islamic economics into Dubai’s national economy and to make Dubai “the global capital of the Islamic economy.” While Dubai must overtake competitors such as London and Malaysia before it can claim the title of global capital, the goal’s ambition is in line with some of Dubai’s past projects, which include the world’s highest tower, biggest shopping center, highest hotel, and highest restaurant.

Dubai already managed to raise US$1.25 billion in government Islamic bonds in January, and expanding its role in the world’s Islamic finance industry could be a substantial source of revenue. According to some reports, global demand for Islamic financial products could grow to as much as US$2.6 trillion by 2015.

Domestically, Dubai’s efforts have shown progress, with ongoing developments in its financial sector. In February, NASDAQ Dubai proposed creating a transparent and regulated exchange for sukuk issues through an electronic, automated fixed-income trading platform. NASDAQ Dubai also unveiled plans to make capital more readily available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through initial public offerings. Meanwhile, international efforts such as the memorandum of understanding signed by the Dubai Financial Services Authority and Europe’s Securities and Markets Authority are linking Dubai more closely with other global financial centers.

This year, the Fourth Annual CFA Institute Middle East Investment Conference will be held in Dubai, and delegates will have a chance to hear from some of the region’s financial authorities as well as leading academics and global financial industry professionals. Conference sessions will cover topics including geopolitics and the changing face of global capitalism, and delegates will have the opportunity to network with colleagues in the financial services industry and encounter different perspectives. You can register to attend this event and follow this blog for conference news and updates.

Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.

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