In 4 more days, I will be flying to a foreign land called Kazakhstan to attend the 7th World Islamic Economic Forum. I have heard of Kazakhstan but I never dream I will ever go there. Let us not start on the Borat references when people mentioned Kazakhstan. As there are a few of my friends going there, with their separate reasons, and most of them are on Twitter, we have been discussing what we may find there. It seems that one common theme we found out is that they have a very close relationship with horses. They ride them, use them in their everyday live and they even eat horse meat.
However, let us look at why at Islamic finance and Kazakhstan. Why would anyone would want to bring something new to a new frontier? Wouldn't it be risky if something goes wrong? Why don't we compete for a piece of the pie in London or New York? Or maybe even Singapore? At least, all these countries have the facility which will help Islamic financial institutions to gain footings and spread out. Anyone who knows about the politics of Islamic finance (yes, there is politics when you want to establish a strong foothold as the hub of anything to do with finance) will know why.
Malaysia has long want to establish itself as an Islamic finance hub. Our nearest competitor was once Bahrain. However, all those old-moneyed financial hubs like London, New York and Singapore wanted the oil-dollar which is synonym with Islamic finance. Kazakhstan is a new frontier. No one actually know what to expect from this country. What people know is that they were part of the former Soviet Union and they have oil. So, why don't Malaysia take a risk and market our expertise as the expert in Islamic finance. And no one can deny that as we have a lot to offer in Islamic finance. It is much like the trip I did to South Korea with an Islamic bank in Malaysia which is trying to introduce Islamic finance to South Korea.
Where do we stand in Islamic finance? We have Malaysia Islamic Finance Center which is basically a one-stop center for anything to do with Islamic finance. My second degree which comes from International Center for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) is also a MIFC initiatives. Banks and other financial institutions have opened and are opening branches in Malaysia as fast as our Central Bank can issue them. Our own banks have forayed into other market and even our food franchises like KFC has break into new markets like India and Cambodia. And yes, also the World Islamic Economic Forum which is in its 7th year.
World Islamic Economic Forum wants to be the platform like World Economic Forum is. Group discussion, place for announcement of new initiatives for Islamic finance, roundtable discussion among the Islamic finance players either on the government level, authority level and Islamic financial institution level. It was held in Kuala Lumpur last year and I attended most of the forums. Other than forums, it also showcase talents like painters, musicians, filmmakers, artistes and thinkers in Islamic world under the Marketplace. That is why my friend Altimet, who can be considered as the Malaysian feel-good rapper with songs like Syukur and Kotarayaku, is going there too.
It is important to note that Islamic economy is not just limited to Islamic finance. Islamic economy include everyday commerce, food, creative endeavors and every commodities which conventional economy also trade in as long as it doesn't deal with anything prohibited by Islam like alcoholic drinks, pigs or any other things not allowed under Islam, free from any elements of riba', gharar and maisir. It must also be based on real economy in contrast of making money out of nothing such as speculation. The short version of Islamic finance principal is 'No Risk, No Gain'.
This time around as we are there while we are attending the forums, observing showcases and basically being in the thick of things, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and other social media links which you can add us on through the links below (just hoping we can get good internet connection) :
Links for updates :
Facebook : kruel74 Facebook
Ask The Lawyer Facebook page
Khairul, Suhaila & Hazlina Facebook page
Altimet Facebook page
Twitter : @kruel74 Twitter page
@altimet Twitter page
And to know more about the 7th World Islamic Economic Forum, here is the link to their website : 7th WIEF.