AlBaraka Forum for Islamic Economy succeds in launching its first edition of Albaraka Summits in London in the presence of prominent global economic leaders and institutions

Al Baraka Forum for Islamic Economy launched its first global summit to promote Islamic Economic principles in London under the title “Importance of Intellect in Creating Impact” on November 12-13, 2022. Albaraka summit in London aimed to increase intellectual awareness, fund research, and establish knowledge databases related to Islamic finance, as well as discuss mechanisms for preserving the resources of the Islamic economy, addressing its contemporary issues in practice and theory, and the effectiveness of applying the Islamic economic industry to all societies around the world.

During his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Yousef Khalawi, Secretary General of Al Baraka Forum for Islamic Economy, announced that Albaraka summits will be held next year as it’s a major turning point for Islamic finance and economics. A group of leading financial figures interested in the economy in general and the Islamic economy, in particular, attended the international event.

Furthermore, his excellency emphasized that Al Baraka Forum aims to develop value Islamic economy content, promote the various dimensions of the Islamic economy globally, and create an action platform for all of its pioneers, professionals, academics, and stakeholders from around the world.

H.E. Mr. Yousef highlighted the historical significance of Al Baraka Forum, from its inception as a seminar founded by the late Sheikh Saleh Kamel, the pioneer of Islamic economics, to its transformation over the past 40 years as Al Baraka Forum for Islamic Economy in 2020 to be the beacon for Islamic economics and a global center for knowledge and research on Islamic finance.

During the launch of the opening ceremony presented by Mr. Faraz Khan, Founder of SEED Ventures, H.E. Prof. Dr. Koutoub Moustapha Sano, Secretary General of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) opened his speech by reinforcing the significance of the summit’s slogan and the role of intellect in influencing and enhancing countries’ economic and social status.

H.E. Prof. Dr. Koutoub, stressed the influence of intellect and the role of Islamic economics in the development of global finance to distinguish between fixed and intricate financial and business rules, allowing nations and institutions to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The opening speech of H.E. Mr. Taha Ayhan, President of the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum (ICYF), underlined the role of young economists in integrating Islamic finance into the global economy, as well as the importance of activating Islamic economic mechanisms to confront economic problems such as poverty and unemployment by new generations. H.E. Mr. Taha Ayhan clarified that, while the Islamic banking system has grown rapidly in recent decades to become one of the most dynamic systems that can be used to pique the interest of millions of people worldwide, there is still a great need to exert more effort in explaining this financial concept to the entire world.

H.E. Dr. Umar Oseni, CEO of International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM), shed light on the Islamic finance industry in his opening remarks, pointing out that the figures for this financing total $3 trillion USD, and that financing Islam is still in its early stages. He emphasized that the only way to realize the various opportunities and benefits that await humanity is to optimize our intellect in accordance with Sharia principles, laying the groundwork for the development of competitive, dynamic, and effective financial products that are both economically beneficial and adhere to Islamic jurisprudence.

H.E. Prof. Dr. Allam Ahmed, Professor of Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Queen Mary University and President of the World Association for Sustainable Development (WASD), concluded the opening speeches by discussing the role of knowledge and intellect in solving current global problems, along with how the Islamic economy can contribute to creating a more sustainable, developed and the resilient globe. He emphasized the importance of increasing productivity knowledge for economists to transition from traditional knowledge to modern knowledge with technology applications.

The summit, held for the first time outside the MENA region, was convened at the Grosvenor Marriott JW London House and highlighted the role of research, intellectual, and knowledge institutions in the field of Islamic economics, thereby enhancing the Al Baraka Forum’s achievement in the Islamic finance and banking sector. During the first day, pioneers of Islamic economics and the finance industry debated five intellectual principles through discussion sessions, including knowledge-based economics and the adoption of Islamic development concepts to serve individuals and society.

The first session entitled “The Need for Independent, Intellectual, and Specialized Institutions in Islamic Economy: Focus on AlBaraka Forum for Islamic Economy”, was moderated by the chairperson, Prof Bill Russell, Associate Dean at the School of Business University of Dundee, and presented by two speakers,  H.E. Dr. Umar Oseni, CEO of International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM), and Mr. Ibrahim El Sayed, Content Development Coordinator at Al Baraka Forum as they discussed the importance of an analytical understanding of Islamic finance in supporting it to expand and prosper globally, as well as the vital role of intellectual institutions that raise global awareness of the Islamic economy, citing Al Baraka Forum as an example to achieve this goal.

The value of the Saleh Kamel Islamic Economics Award, one million Saudi Riyals, was announced for the first time during the second session entitled “Saleh Kamel Islamic Economics Award as an Engine of Developing Scientific Research” which was chaired by Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Haq, Director of Centre for Islamic Finance University of Bolton and presented by Mr. Ibrahim El Sayed, Content Development Coordinator at Al Baraka Forum and Mr. Abdulkader Thomas, Director of SHAPETM Knowledge Services. The speakers emphasized the importance of the awards in disseminating scientific research outputs of researchers and academics in order to achieve effective development of the Islamic finance field globally.

According to Mr. Ibrahim El Sayed, Content Development Coordinator at Al Baraka Forum, the award was initiated to honor the forum’s founder, the late Sheikh Saleh Kamel, and his pioneering contribution to the field of Islamic economics. The award seeks to disseminate and advance scientific research on Islamic financial and economic jurisprudence by encouraging researchers’ innovation and creativity and facilitating the spread and application of their intellectual production. The award will be granted to the best dissertation, master’s or doctoral thesis, and research on the annual topic, as announced by the award’s Board of Trustees.

The third session under the title “Infrastructure Institutions for the Islamic Economy and the Desired Role: AAOIFI in Scope”, was chaired by Mr. Umer Suleman, Global Head of Risk at Wahed, and presented by Dr. Rizwan Malik, Head of Standards Implementation & Strategic Developments at AAOIFI, emphasized the role of setting standards and defining comprehensive Islamic finance practices, as well as the importance of developing them in accordance with Sharia, to ensure coverage of all fields of Islamic economics from various organizational, practical, academic, and Sharia perspectives, thereby increasing the effectiveness of Islamic finance as a global economic approach.

In its fourth session under the title “From Islamic Finance to Islamic Economy. The Ability to Study the Islamic Economy Theory in Its Comprehensive Scope”, Albaraka summit in London emphasized the role of intellect and the mechanisms for its practical implementation as a fundamental pillar for achieving development in the Islamic economy. The session was chaired by Dr. Alija Avdukic, Deputy Director of M.Sc Programs in Islamic Finance at the University of Dundee and Associate Professor at Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, and presented by Professor Dr. Mehmet Asutay, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Political Economy & Finance and Director of Durham Centre for Islamic Economics and Finance at Durham University, underlined the need to develop science, education and training tools to contribute to establishing a stable and flexible financial system characterized by intellectual analysis.

The first day of the summit concluded with the fifth session, entitled “The Effectiveness of Islamic Financial Institutions in the British Market: The Future and Prospects”, which was chaired by Dr. Natalie Schoon, Principal Consultant at Formabb Ltd, who discussed the presence of Islamic financial institutions in the British market, referring to Al Baraka’s annual reports that showed growth in the assets of Islamic economic services, which totaled $2.7 trillion across 75 countries. This set the stage for a discussion with Mr. Stuart Hutton, Chief Investment Officer at Simply Ethical, about the global economic challenges, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic, as well as British efforts to address them.

Mr. Adnan Halawi, Senior Proposition Manager at LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) and Head of Islamic product development, stated that the British government has taken steps to support the Islamic economy, and Prof. Dr. Hussein A. Abdou, Faculty Director at Research & Enterprise and Professor of Banking & Finance Faculty of Business & Justice at the University of Central Lancashire, predicted that the Islamic finance sector would grow by more than $4 trillion.

While Eng. Ashraf Tanbouly, Chief Executive Officer of Islamic Chamber Halal Certification Services  (ICHCS), discussed the prospects for halal products in the food, cosmetic, and clothing manufacturing sectors in the European market. All of the financial experts agreed on the importance of Islamic financial institutions in empowering individuals and societies worldwide. They also discussed intellectual problems and solutions for transforming Islamic finance into a global industry for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

On the second day of Albaraka summit in London, a workshop was held in collaboration with the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), in which Dr. Rizwan Malik, Head of Standards Implementation and Strategic Development, discussed the topic: AAOIFI’s New Ethical Standard (Professional Ethics Program).

He highlighted the significance of international governing bodies in establishing accounting and auditing standards for Islamic financial institutions. Mr. Arshadur Rahman, Manager at the Bank of England, spoke about banking, insurance, asset management, corporate governance, risk management, and other financial and operational issues.

Ms. Aalia Jafar, the ICCIA’s Director of International Relations, announced that the second London summit will take place at the end of October 2023. From their current position, the two organizations are expected to achieve their common strategic goal of promoting investment in the Islamic economy, highlighting the role both organizations play in establishing a knowledge culture that aims to develop and support the Islamic socio-economic system in the Muslim and non-Muslim countries.

It’s worth noting that throughout history, London has been an Islamic finance pioneer, one of the most crucial financial hubs worldwide, and geographically proximate to Britain’s most important academic institutions specializing in Islamic finance. According to the Saleh Kamel Islamic Economy database, Islamic banks in the UK account for 33% of all Islamic banks in Europe. The United Kingdom has 62% of Europe’s Islamic Fintech institutions, including 6 Islamic digital banks, making London the starting point for Albaraka summits series.

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