Dubai set itself a target of three years to become the centre of the global Islamic economy, embarking on a strategy announced by the ruler of the emirate.
Seven pillars of wisdom for Dubai’s three-year Islamic hub strategy
The first steps in the seven-pillar plan, which includes 46 initiatives to be implemented within a three-year window – reduced from five – will be taken next year.
The seven separate strategic directions, each aiming to make Dubai a global leader in one aspect of the Islamic economy, are: finance; the halal food industry; family friendly tourism; the digital economy; fashion, arts and design; economic education; and standards and certification.
“The continued developments and changes in the global economy increase the need to constantly diversify the structure of our national economy,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who oversaw the launch of the strategy yesterday.
“Our aim from all economic initiatives we launch is to improve the quality of life and provide opportunities that ensure a prosperous future for coming generations.”
The initiative was launched by Sheikh Mohammed last February. For the past six months experts from the emirate’s business elite, under the direction of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, have been preparing details of the strategy.
Mohammed Al Gergawi, the federal Minister of Cabinet Affairs and chairman of the supreme committee steering the project, said: “The initiative seeks to provide comprehensive solutions in order to support the sectors of both the Islamic economy and the national economy, so as to diversify them and ensure their steady development, sustained through the high-quality performance of their main sectors including commerce, retail, tourism, aviation, hospitality and financial and logistic services.”
Among the first measures to be undertaken will be the establishment of an Islamic Governance Centre in Dubai to develop standards of corporate governance in the Islamic business world, under Sami Al Qamzi, director general of the emirate’s Department of Economic Development. This body will also encourage investment and support local Islamic industries.
An international laboratory for the certification and accreditation of halal products is also planned for early 2014. Halal food and other products form an estimated $3.5bn global market.
Two other initiatives are also scheduled for the first part of next year: legislation to regulate the production of halal products locally and globally, and an international endowment authority to spread the culture of waqf, or Islamic charitable endowment.
Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the board of the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority, said the Islamic financial initiative would initially focus on the $11bn global market for takaful, Islamic insurance and re-insurance.
Mr Al Gergawi said: “An open and resilient economy capable of adapting to various changes has allowed the UAE in general and Dubai in particular to absorb the Islamic economy sector as an integral part of their economic sector.
“The leadership of the UAE and the emirate of Dubai realised, from the outset, the importance of this sector. Therefore, Dubai was a pioneer and a trendsetter in the establishment of the first Islamic bank in the world in the 1970s and in hosting the first Islamic financial market.”
Bain & Co, the international management consulting firm, is also believed to have been involved in drawing up details of the initiative.
Dubai has already launched plans to be a global centre for the issuance of sukuk, Islamic corporate bonds, a market forecast to be worth $420 billion by 2017, to challenge the supremacy of sukuk centres such as London and Kuala Lumpur.
It has also signed an agreement with the Islamic Development Bank to promote the Dubai Centre for Islamic Banking and Finance.
Next month the emirate will host the first Global Islamic Economy Summit, organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and the international news and information group Thomson Reuters.