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Saturday, February 28, 2015  

Dire need for Islamic banking, says Mahathir
 Staff Reporter

MUSCAT There is a dire need for Islamic banking in this age to make the optimum use of capital available in the Islamic world, according to Mahathir Mohammed, former prime minister of Malaysia.

Non-Islamic countries too can adopt the Islamic banking model, he added while delivering a keynote speech at the first Muscat International Islamic Finance Forum, which was officially inaugurated in Muscat on Sunday.

“The common problem faced by investors is uncertainty in the investment climate. Now that Islamic banking is available there is no reason why Muslims cannot develop their countries,” he said.   

Discussing the role of Islamic finance in the success of Malaysia in achieving industrialisation and economic prosperity, he said even though Malaysia faced a “lack of capital, know-how and technology, management skills and knowledge of the markets,” the country industrialised by inviting foreign direct investment (FDI).  

“Over time, Malaysians acquired the technology, skills, capital and market knowledge and was able to industrialise without too much dependence of FDI.”

Amanie Advisors, a Muscat-based financial advisory, hosted the two-day event under the auspices of His Highness Sayyid Asa’ad Bin Tariq Al Said, Representative of His Majesty the Sultan.  Asa’ad welcomed Mahathir’s speech. Omanis were looking forward to Islamic banking for a long time. Studies have revealed that there are billions of Omani rials invested outside the Sultanate. He hoped this money would come back to benefit the Sultanate’s economy.

Over 500 delegates, including senior industry figures, global investors, takaful operators, and bankers, as well as top Sharia scholars took part in deliberations on the first day. The forum provides a platform for industry leaders to meet and discuss new possibilities and collaborations in Islamic banking and finance, with a special focus on Oman.

The introductory remarks were delivered by Mohammed Daud Bakar, group chairman, Amanie Advisors, in addition to Sulaiman Al Harthy, group general manager Meethaq and Hamdan Al Hinai, chairman, Ahli Bank.

The first day of the gathering brought together senior industry figures, global investors, takaful operators, and bankers, as well as top Sharia scholars. The topics included Islamic finance regulations, financial market development, Islamic finance human development, liquidity management and new finance opportunities in Mena.

Three memorandum of understanding were also signed. A key discussion on the Sharia perspective was also held .

 “We are delighted by the response that the first edition of the Muscat International Islamic Finance Forum has seen. We believe there is a lot to learn from those who have been practising Islamic finance for several years in Oman and the magnitude of reception of this event reinforces our conviction,” said Fahad Bin Mohammed Al Khalili, executive partner of Amanie Advisory House of Oman.

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