Boao Forum Q+A: Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar

The CEO of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre discusses the need for standardisation in Islamic finance

Vision: What makes Dubai well-positioned to become a centre of excellence for the Islamic economy and can you tell us about your roadmap for achieving this?

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar: I believe the fact that Dubai boasts state-of-the-art infrastructure is just one of the advantages that makes it so competitive to become an ideal choice for Islamic finance. Islamic finance has generally been increasing in size globally, so there has been increasing interest in utilising Islamic finance investment platforms, such as the exchanges. Dubai Financial Market or Nasdaq Dubai offer a means for investors to tap into liquidity that the region offers, but also to tap into a different type of investor base to support their projects, whether they are infrastructure or other projects.

With a number of so-called hubs for Islamic finance in Asia, how do you see cooperation between Dubai as a centre for the Islamic economy and these hubs?

Well, certainly when it comes to Islamic finance and the Islamic economy, I believe the opportunity is there for harmonising standards as much as possible. Today, in the Islamic finance space, there are several standards that regulate, but also define, those transactions and solutions. So I believe today, because of the differences between standards, there is room for harmonisation. So the centre will look forward to working with other jurisdictions to achieve such harmonisation.

Will you seek to attract Chinese companies and help them see Islamic finance as an attractive option?

I think certainly there is an opportunity. As we said earlier at the conference, the trade ties between China and the UAE are quite significant and I believe the introduction of Islamic finance is another door of opportunity that is open for Chinese investors to utilise and get access to different types of investments.