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$124bn to enter UAE Islamic banking by 2015

Dubai, November 19, 2013

Funds worth about $124 billion could potentially enter the UAE Islamic banking system by 2015, creating approximately 7,800 new jobs at Islamic banks if the current asset concentration ratios remain similar, said a report.

Additionally, 500 jobs will be created in other Islamic financial services segments, according to a recent analysis by Tahseen Consulting, a specialised advisor on strategic and organisational issues in the Arab world.

By 2015, the Islamic financial services sector will double in size from approximately 10,000 employees currently to 20,000, stated the report released at a senior level debate organised by Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) in collaboration with the organisers of the Global Islamic Economy Summit, Thomson Reuters.

The event drew a number of industry experts, government officials, and top academics who discussed the existing and emerging skills gaps within the Islamic finance sector – one of the seven pillars of Dubai’s Islamic economy initiative.

Senior representatives from Standard & Poor’s, Simmons & Simmons, Dubai Holding, Dubai Islamic Bank, Dubai Financial Services Authority and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) joined university and academic leaders at the debaate to highlight the skills needed to ensure the UAE’s Islamic finance sector thrives in the future.

The participants reviewed the key findings of a Workforce Planning Study , which has identified some of the major themes and skills gaps within the fast-growing Islamic finance sector.

The study revealed that dedicated Islamic banking skills were in big demand from the GCC banks, particularly at the entry level, closely followed by financial risk management and customer segmentation and analytics skills.

Of the 60 banks surveyed;

•50 per cent said that they find it difficult to hire graduates for entry level positions.
•23 per cent said that they find it difficult to hire for mid-level positions.
•Just 5 per cent of banks say that they find it hard to hire for senior positions.

The study also offers some critical recommendations about how the UAE can address the skills gaps arising from the sector’s growth, such as genuinely bridging the communication gap between industry and academia.

Commenting after the discussion, Dr Ayoub Kazim, the managing director of DIAC and Dubai Knowledge Village said: "Islamic finance is a central pillar in Dubai’s strategy to become the world’s capital of the Islamic economy. Demand for skilled workers in this field has never been higher, and as a home for the region’s education and training institutes, we have an important role to play in bringing academia, industry and government closer together to ensure the future success of the sector."

“Roundtable debates such as these, informed by evidence found in the Workforce Planning Study, enable our academic partners and training institutes to tailor their education programmes to the demands of local business. This is a smart and forward-looking approach to education – and it is one that ties back to Dubai’s overarching vision of developing a thriving, knowledge-based economy,” he noted.

Essa Al Mulla, the executive director, Emirates National Development Programme, KHDA, said: "Islamic finance plays a crucial role in the UAE’s financial system. The debate not only highlights the existing skills shortage in the sector, but also provides a platform to discuss innovative ways to encourage sustainable and long-term skills development."

"At present, there are a number of institutions in Dubai offering programmes in banking and finance; however, we need programmes specialising in Islamic Finance," he remarked.

Rashid Mahboob, the senior VP (Customer Excellence) at Dubai Islamic Bank, said: "This high level discussion offers an early insight into the skills gaps that exist within the Islamic finance sector, as well as how to nurture the human capital needed to meet the sector’s expected growth."

“In the future, there will be an increasing focus on excellence in all aspects of employment, and this will be particularly true for those working within Islamic finance. To prepare for this, universities and training providers must refine their programmes and courses to support the sector, equipping young talent with the level of specialism and sophistication that is required by employers. Similarly, employers must dedicate themselves to providing genuine on-the-job training,” he added.

Prof Abdullah Al Shamsi, the vice-chancellor of the British University in Dubai, said as per PricewaterhouseCoopers' report, Islamic financial assets are growing 17 per cent per year and are set to reach $2.67 trillion by 2017.

These developments vouch safe the growing significance of Islamic finance and banking in the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

“Clearly realising the market needs for trained manpower in this industry, the British University in Dubai has already initiated steps to introduce a full-pledged postgraduate program in Islamic economy and finance from the next academic year. Currently, we are preparing the necessary documents to be submitted to MOHESR for its inspection and approval.”

Initial findings from the ICD Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator report show that there are over 533 institutions globally offering courses or degrees in Islamic finance.

The UAE sits in third position with 31 course providers and 9 degree providers, which is ahead of the US, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, but behind the UK and Malaysia.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Jobs | Global Islamic Economy Summit |

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