JEDDAH - There should be more focus on enhancing the opportunities available for startup businesses initiated by youth and the Islamic finance opportunities, said Tun Musa Hitam, chairman of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Foundation. He highlighted the role that Islamic finance could play in the global market following the global financial crisis and stated that Islamic finance now attracts non-Muslim countries. Among the main players in this sector now are Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. On the international level, German scholars are showing great interest.
Hitam was speaking at a press conference held in Jeddah on Sunday following a meeting with both secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Chairman Youssef Al-Othaimeen of the Islamic Development Bank Bander Al-Hajjar.
Hitam said that the Islamic Development Bank has long been with them in facilitating and organizing the meeting of business people. The IDB has also collaborated with WIEF foundation on different projects concerning women, youth, Awqaf, nanotechnology and regenerative medicine.
Hitam also announced the upcoming 13th WIEF under the theme "Disruptive Change: Impact and Challenges". It will be held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, in Sarawak, Malaysia on Nov. 21-23, 2017. It will have panel discussions, master classes, business exchanges and exhibition, among others.
The aim is to create a platform to discuss the different issues to find ways to adapt to the disruptive change. The sectors that are of particular interest are technology and innovation, halal products and services, Islamic finance and law, entrepreneurship, arts & culture and design.
WIEF Foundation Chairman said "in this age of disruptive change, we must push for greater collaboration as it is pertinent in driving the key economic indicators. At WIEF, we champion promoting regional cooperation and driving businesses to impact communities at large. Co-operation across different economies is vital in accelerating progress especially when emerging markets and developing economies are the focus of growth on the next wave of global development”.
The technology and innovation sectors are growing in emerging economies more even than advanced economies according to WIEF. It is estimated that artificial intelligence will create a value of $1.8 trillion in Asia by 2030. Another emerging market is halal products and services which increased by 8 percent year-on-year, and is now valued at $2.3 trillion. Another sector that is expected to boom is the Islamic finance which reached $2 trillion by 2016 benefiting from sukuk.
The SMEs are also advancing and they contribute to about 45 percent of global employment and 90 percent of global economic activity. Meanwhile, the art and culture sectors generate revenues of $2250 billion and 29.5 million jobs.
In line with Saudi Arabia's drive to enhance the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) segment, the country plans to raise the economic contribution of SMEs from the current 20% of GDP to 35%. Due to a growing number of tourist arrivals, Saudi Arabia's F&B sector is expected to reach $18.2 billion by 2020. WIEF sees these opportunities are significant and hopes that these efforts can be further amplified through WIEF's business network globally.