BY LUCIA DORE (Assistant Editor, Business)
25 January 2008DUBAI – The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is in the process of developing new initiatives to create “an international point of reference for Islamic finance regulations, standards and practices”, Nasser Al Shaali, the DIFC’s CEO said yesterday.
Speaking at the Bankers’ Lunch organised by Emirates-NBD, Al Shaali said the initiatives included the creation of a DIFC Shariah centre, an Islamic hedge funds platform, an Islamic finance portal, a commodity murabah exchange and the establishment of Islamic finance institutes such as a judicial academy and a research and intelligence centre.
The DIFC has already developed the world’s only model law, which can be applied to regulate the Islamic finance sector by any jurisdiction, he said. Other initiatives the DIFC is undertaking aim to develop “industry recognised complementary services,” said Al Shaali. To this end, at least two new sectors and sub-sectors will be launched. “These we will announce later,” he said, adding that efforts are being made to “promote sustainability by assessing and benchmarking industry trends with a focus on identifying potential initiatives.” DIFC is also enhancing its IT infrastructure and is establishing a state-of-art technology data centre, said Al Shaali. It will also continue to focus on risk management and business continuity frameworks. To ensure that the DIFC becomes a global hub for finance, its financial infrastructure will continue to be strengthened, he said. A statistical information system will be established as well as real time gross settlement (RTGS) for multi currencies. Establishing core standards for insolvency, accounting, compliance for auditing and corporate governance are also on the agenda alongside setting a framework for securitisation. “We are totally committed to making the DIFC a global hub for finance and these initiatives, I feel, would take us to the next level,” he said. Al Shaali also commented that the DIFC aims to become “the employer of choice by offering “exceptional facilities and benefits, development programmes, training and leadership and career growth”. This means the development of the social side of the DIFC is required, he continued. This year the DIFC will be hosting Art Dubai, which is a forum to promote regional art and artists to a global audience. An exhibition of rare art from the JP Morgan Chase collection will also be put on display. Al Shaali also noted the success of last year’s DIFC Week and said that this year’s would be held from 23 to 28 November. Ending his address he said: “We stand at the crossroads of the world,” and noted the resurgence of the south. “We are, fortunately, part of the south and close to it. There are many opportunities for the taking.”