Malaysian Islamic finance university eyes Mena
Cairo, December 6, 2012
Growing demand for executive programs are prompting the Islamic finance industry's only dedicated university to expand into the Middle East and North Africa, the chief executive of Kuala-Lumpur based International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) said.
Set up in 2005 by the Malaysian central bank, INCEIF plans to offer its programmes across several Arab Spring countries where Islamist parties have come into power.
Islamic finance, which prohibits the use of interest and pure monetary speculation, is expected to be particularly strong in North Africa. Previous governments had limited or discouraged it.
"I see us in Egypt next year, depending on stability. In Tunisia and Morocco, the momentum will start in 2013," said Daud Vicary Abdullah, president and chief executive of INCEIF.
The university, classified as a project of national interest by the Malaysian government, is in talks with several institutions in Egypt to offer its programmes. Abdullah declined to disclose their names as discussions are ongoing.
But setting up a standalone presence in the region is not planned, as the return on such investments can be 10 to 15 years, Abdullah added.
"We do not see an acquisition or investment in the short term, but rather working through collaborations and partnerships".
The university will target short-term Islamic finance executive programmes at North African states while long-term courses would be aimed at the more sophisticated and competitive Gulf markets, where INCEIF has already worked with Bahrain University and the Central Bank of Kuwait, Abdullah added.
"We are seeing significant growth from Africa and the Far East, with additional pickup from the GCC and Mena regions," he added.
INCEIF has partnerships with entities in Japan, Luxembourg, Britain, and Turkey, and has ongoing collaborations with multilateral agencies including the Jeddah-based Islamic Development bank, the World Bank, and the Malaysia-based Islamic Financial Services Board.-Reuters