By Andy Sambidge
Ruler Sheikh Mohammed issues decree to set up Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has issued a decree to set up the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre as part of the emirate's plans to become a global hub for Islamic finance.
A decree was also ordered to form the centre's board of directors, which will be chaired by Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, news agency WAM reported.
Sami Daen Al Qamzi was also named as vice chairman, while other board members will include Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Ghurair, Hussain Nasser Lootah, Dr Hamad Al Shiebani, Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Hussein Daen Qamzi, Helal Saeed Al Marri, and Isa Abdul Fattah Kazim.
Separately, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, said on Wednesday that Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar will be CEO of the centre.
According to the decrees, the centre will have legal and financial independence and will promote Dubai "to become the global capital of Islamic economy".
It will build a database on Islamic economic activities and encourage recourse to arbitration in related Islamic economic activities disputes, WAM said.
The centre will also be tasked with conducting studies on the Islamic economy, determining the extent of Shariah-compliant economic activities on the GDP of Dubai, and how to develop them.
Earlier this year, Dubai announced it was launching a drive to develop its Islamic business sector, aiming to attract fresh investment from the Middle East and south-east Asia.
The government will promote Islamic banking and insurance, Islamic financial products and other areas including the arbitration of Islamic contracts and the setting of quality standards for halal food.
Islamic finance, based on principles such as bans on interest and on pure monetary speculation, has grown rapidly around the world over the last several years, although it remains much smaller than conventional finance.
Islamic banks now command a roughly 25 percent share of the banking market in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to an estimate by Ernst & Young.
Dubai, emerging from its corporate debt crisis of 2009-2010, wants to boost growth with trade and investment from around the region. It has a history of successfully developing service industries; the Dubai International Financial Centre, opened about a decade ago, has become the Gulf's top banking centre.