The tenth World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) opened in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday, gathering over 2,700 delegates from more than 100 countries to explore "Innovative Partnerships for Economic Growth."
In his opening speech, President of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hamad Buamim said the forum's purpose is to create growth opportunities not only in the Islamic world, but globally.
According to Essa Kazim, governor of the Dubai International Financial Center, the economy of the Islamic world is "poised to double in size within the next five years and to reach 4.3 trillion (U.S.) dollars," as the rising number of issuances of Islamic bonds, also known as Sukuk, is building bridges between the East and the West.
As the Sukuk market becomes globally prosperous, it has "the potential to close financing gaps in necessary infrastructure financing in Asia, the Middle East and Africa," said Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia. The Middle East alone has a funding need worth two trillion dollars.
Some ten countries now use an estimated 95 billion dollars of Sukuk to fund their infrastructure, of which 75 percent are based in Malaysia.
WIEF started off from a modest beginning as the Organization Islamic Conference Business Forum in 2003. The first WIEF convening was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2005.
This year's three-day event in Dubai, themed "Innovative Partnerships for Economic Growth," is held against the backdrop of a weakened U.S. dollar and Euro in the aftermath of the global debt crisis, as well as "the emergence of strong economies in Africa, Asia, and other continents."