Islamic finance has the potential to create a positive impact and help in addressing the devastating challenges facing global economies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was among the highlights of speeches and discussions during the 6th Islamic Finance Conference, jointly organized by Effat University, the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), and INCEIF.
The virtual conference was held on 17 December 2020, under the patronage of HRH Princess Lolowah Al Faisal, Vice-Chair of Effat University’s Board of Trustees and General Supervisor.
Under the theme ‘Islamic Finance: A Strategic Option for Global Economies’, the conference aimed to provide a platform to discuss the current digital transformation that the Islamic finance ecosystem could leverage to exponentially enhance business processes and streamline related operations.
In her opening address, Dr. Malak Alnory, Provost of Effat University, welcomed the speakers and the participants and thanked them for attending the conference to share their experiences. She further highlighted the strategic option of Islamic finance to survive the post-Covid-19 period.
Dr. Hylmun Izhar, Senior Economist at IRTI, delivered a presentation on the Saudi Arabia Islamic Finance Country Report published recently by IRTI. The presentation was made on behalf of Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director-General of IRTI and Chief Economist of the Islamic Development Bank Group.
The report, themed Islamic Finance in Saudi Arabia: Leading the Way to Vision 2030, was published alongside the G20 Summit held in Saudi Arabia in November 2020. The report is the first comprehensive study of the Islamic finance sector in the Kingdom. It analyses the outlook, trends, and prospects of Islamic finance in Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Salma Abbasi, Chairperson, and CEO, a worldwide Group in, the UK, presented one of the keynote speeches during the conference. She stated that the theme of the conference reflected the dire situation the world found itself in.
Dr. Abbasi presented her speech in four key parts that stressed discussing the strategies to rebuild and restart the economies inclusively with the resilience that Islamic finance principles provide. The speech further reviewed case studies outlining the humanitarian aspects of Islamic finance.
The conference sessions were organized around four themes, namely Economics of Covid-19: The Islamic Finance Perspective, Crowdfunding, and Waqf, Benchmarking of Islamic Finance Industry, and New Economic Models after Covid-19.
Dr. Rami Abdelkafi, Head of Knowledge Creation at IRTI, and Salim Refas, a Ph.D. student in Islamic Economics and Finance at Istanbul Zaim University, jointly presented a paper entitled “Drivers and impacts of macroeconomic entrepreneurship success and failure in post-Covid context for developing countries.” The paper focused on the issues related to entrepreneurship and job creation in developing countries as well as the unprecedented impacts of Covid-19 on entrepreneurial activities.
Other scholars from various countries presented papers, including from Bahrain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Sudan, Australia, Iraq, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Pakistan, UK, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. The papers focused mostly on generating breakthrough insights that can help reposition Islamic finance in response to the coronavirus crisis.
At the end of each panel session, there was a round of questions and answers in which the audience, speakers, and moderator actively participated. The conference had 35 panelists and a total of 225 virtual participants.