A Bahraini group that sets standards for Islamic finance in 45 countries is helping universities start Sharia-compliant business courses to avert a shortage of experts in the $1 trillion market.
The industry will need 15 percent more personnel over the next five years and 25 percent more in a decade, said Khairul Nizam, deputy secretary general of the Accounting & Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions.
Pakistan is offering its first doctorate in Sharia banking, while the United Arab Emirates has introduced an Islamic Masters of Business Administration.
“There is a shortage of people in the industry at the entry level,” Nizam said. “We will need to make sure there are enough heads in the future.”
Sharia-compliant bonds returned 6.9 percent this year, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai US Dollar Sukuk Index, outpacing the 5.9 percent jump in emerging-market debt, data compiled by JPMorgan Chase & Co shows. Countries including Nigeria, Thailand, Australia and France plan to introduce legislation to facilitate Islamic financing, moves that will boost demand for scholars to certify that the products meet Islam’s ban on interest payments.
“If you don’t have quality people, then growth in the industry won’t be sustainable,” said Azahari Kamil, the chief executive officer of Kuala Lumpur-based Asian Finance Bank, a unit of Qatar Islamic Bank. “Governments and central banks should encourage universities to come up with more professional courses.”
The Canadian University of Dubai is offering a UAE- accredited MBA in Islamic banking, Foteini Lavda, the institution’s marketing manager, said in a statement. The International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, started its doctorate course in Sharia banking to compliment its Masters program in August, said Shagufta Haroon, the director of academics. La Trobe University, based in Melbourne, began courses in the subject last year.
Experts in Singapore are also setting up an association focused on Sharia-compliant investments to foster links between bankers, lawyers and investors in the Arabian Gulf and Asia, Raj Mohamad, managing director at Five Pillars, a consulting firm in the city-state, said in an interview yesterday. Mohamad will be the secretary of the new body.
The Accounting & Auditing Organization, known as AAOIFI, has more than 200 members and its standards are used in Islamic finance in Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Sudan and Syria, according to its website.
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