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Islamic Finance to Support Development & Innovation

Finance Desk
Since its inception over 42 years ago, IsDB has financed over 850 projects in member countries and spent over $127 billion
 The event was attended by senior foreign Islamic banking experts. The event was attended by senior foreign Islamic banking experts.

The development of Islamic financial system in the Muslim world and the use of science, technology and innovation within the framework of Islamic finance to boost sustainable development were the main topics of discussion at an Islamic finance event held in Tehran on Saturday.

The Islamic Economics and Banking Symposium was held at Imam Sadeq (PBUH) University sponsored by Mustafa Prize Foundation, the entity in charge of granting the biennial award that aims to become the Islamic version of the Nobel Prize.

The first-ever Mustafa prizes–worth $500,000–recognized the top researchers and scientists of the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in 2015 as their distinguished laureates.

Mohammad Saeed Mahdavi Kani, president of Imam Sadeq (PBUH) University–a graduate school that seeks to reconcile modern humanities with Islamic tenets– inaugurated the event on Saturday with a speech that outlined the approach of Islamic finance. He stressed that Islamic finance and banking have always been and will continue to be supporters of science, technology and innovation (STI).

Mansur Muhtar of the Islamic Development Bank, the guest of honor at the event, took to the podium next to explain how STI can be employed to serve the comprehensive Sustainable Development Goals devised by the United Nations to transform the world into a more inclusive place by 2030.

Referring to SDGs as an “ambitious agenda” that outpaces previous similar UN measures, the vice president of operations at IsDB said an ambitious and credible implementation plan is also required.

“In this context, finance is key and getting the resources to support this agenda is key,” he said, adding that a variety of non-financial means of achieving these objectives, especially STI, must also be considered.

Muhtar referred to the UN’s 2015 resolution that recognized the role played by STI in the global partnership for achieving sustainable development and pointed to a host of efforts that can be undertaken to realize its potentials.

The experienced banker, who has also served as Nigeria’s economy minister, stressed that “visionary leadership and political commitment” at various levels should be accompanied with a credible strategy and a coherent action plan, to support and facilitate the use of STI.

Physical infrastructures, adequacy of funding for STI and ways of forging multi-state partnerships, including regional collaborations, were pointed out by the official as endeavors to achieve sustainable development potentials.

“I think that one of the most critical components of an STI strategy is to build a workforce for the future and develop human assets that will drive this change,” Muhtar said, stressing on women’s inclusion and contribution, and tapping the private sector.

 IsDB’s Role

The official then outlined the role played by IsDB in promoting sustainable development and combating poverty, noting that the bank is tasked with “supporting economics and social transformation” of its 57 member states by providing finance and advisory assistance.

“Since its inception over 42 years ago, IsDB has financed over 850 projects in member countries and spent over $127 billion,” he said.

According to Muhtar, the development bank understands the importance of STI in the economic and social development of countries and consciously directs its funds toward it.

“Beyond these activities, we have also been directly involved in extending technical support and facilitating connections and sharing of knowledge, experience and expertise concerning STI,” he said, pointing to IsDB’s scholarship programs and partnership with key institutions across the world as other services.

IsDB endeavors to promote the culture of science by sponsoring contests and publications, and giving awards, among other things.

“We are very pleased to be associated with the Mustafa Prize Foundation. We very much encourage them to continue the good work they are doing and we support these activities that will help the Muslim world,” Muhtar said.

Other guests and speakers at the symposium included Mohammad Kabir Hassan from the University of New Orleans, Rajah Rasiah from the Asia-Europe Institute of University of Malaysia, two representatives from the International Center for Education in Islamic Finance set up by the Central Bank of Malaysia in 2005, Aishath Muneeza, chairwoman of Maldives Center for Islamic Finance, and Osman Sacarcelik, Frankfurt Chapter director for Startup Grind, a global startup community.

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