English World

WIEF offers valuable platform to bridge Islamic and non-Islamic economies

BY his own admission, World Islamic Economic Forum Foundation (WIEF) chairman Tun Musa Hitam agrees that the organisation is a copy of the exclusive gathering of businessmen at the World Economic Forum.

But unlike the annual gathering of the business world elite at the ski resort of Davos in Switzerland, WIEF works from the bottom up so that those in position can hear first-hand the needs and views of their business communities.

Musa, who has been in charge of WIEF since it came into being in 2006, can be likened to a father who is witnessing his child blossoming into an attractive young lady or a handsome man.

He is proud of WIEF, which celebrates its 10th edition this year, evolving from being a ?copy cat? to a force to be reckoned with among Muslim nations and beyond.

The Malay adage Tak kenal maka tak cinta (if one doesn?t know, one won?t love) aptly describes the foundation.

If non-Muslim countries? economic players and established people were reluctant to participate in the forum?s early years, they are now signing up as delegates in droves.

?We have received so many offers from non-Muslim countries to host WIEF. They are literally queuing up for their turn,? said a proud Musa.

Their interest is justified. The Islamic economy is enormous ? US$7tril (RM23.1tril) to be exact, with a population of 1.8 billion in 150 countries.

Ignoring the vast potential of the Muslim market is certainly not a wise business move.

Even Islamic finance is fast becoming mainstream global finance, with non-Muslim countries realising its potential.

This is where WIEF can play its role for the next decade and beyond ? to get Muslim nations to work towards strengthening relations and business opportunities.

It can also be the bridge for a better business and economic engagement between Muslims and their non-Muslim counterparts.

And this is certainly the right platform as one critical matter is left at the conference doors at every forum ? politics.

WIEF is devoid of politics and that?s the reason for its success.

A senior journalist who was asked to moderate one of the sessions was told by the organisers he must bring the discussions back on the economic and business track should discussions become political.

WIEF should also be the platform where small nations ? be it Muslim or otherwise ? can share ideas and experiences, and showcase their economic opportunities.

These countries, albeit small, have economic potential and if combined can create a significant market size for businesses to venture into.

For Malaysia, WIEF is where she can look for more business opportunities and ?sell? her skills and knowledge the Islamic way.

Malaysia?s success in developing the Islamic economy, especially in the field of Islamic financing and banking, has gained global recognition.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak received many requests from countries to help shape their economies into an Islamic economy, particularly in Islamic finance and banking.

Thanks to Malaysia, which has played a big role in Islamic economy and finance, countries, even non-Muslim ones realise its enormous potential.

Malaysia will be hosting WIEF next year and it will be an opportune time to showcase what she has to offer the global economic community.

Putrajaya, the driving force behind the Global Movement of Moderates, is the best venue to further strengthen links between Muslim and non-Muslim nations on an economic platform rather than politics.

It will also be a good time to encourage bigger participation of small nations.

To the WIEF participants who will be stepping foot in Malaysia next year, Selamat Datang in advance./thestar

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