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IE Pioneers Discussion on Opportunities in Islamic Finance and Tourism

Conference of Islamic Finance in Madrid

Over a dozen renowned speakers from Islamic and Spanish institutions engaged in a full-day conference centered on new scenarios in the Muslim world.

In collaboration with Casa Arabé and the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Center, IE Business School hosted a one-day conference in Madrid with some high-level executives from the Islamic financial and economic landscape. The conference sparked discussion around the business opportunities brought by the flourishing growth of Islamic Fintech, online crowd-funding and venture capital. In parallel, the experts provided executives and professors with insights into the rise of the halal economy and tourism industry, expected to reach $233 billion in 2020.

The event hosted two panels, welcomed by Carlos Mas, Executive Vice President of IE Foundation and Pedro Martinez-Avial, Director General of Casa Arabe, who stressed the importance of nurturing the relationship with Islamic Businesses in Spain and overseas, along with IE’s commitment to encourage ongoing exchanges.

Conference of Islamic Finance in MadridSpeakers included: Head of Sharia Review at the Dubai Islamic Bank, Hani Abbas Helmi, Deputy CEO at Dubai Exports Mohammad Ali AlKamali, CEO of Islamic Fintech Venture Builder EthisCrowd.com Umar Munshi, Co-founder of HalalBooking.com Enver Cebi, Manager at Halal Trade and Marketing Center Tomás Guerrero, Advisor at Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority Jesús Florido-Banqueri and Director of the Travel & Tourism Innovation Initiative at IE University Antonio López de Avila.

The “Islamic Digital Economy and Tourism” panel discussed innovative technologies and digitalization of services that have transformed worldwide economic transactions, especially financial institutions that respect Sharia requirements.

“Islamic finance is in essence an enabler. The reason why it started is that they had a dream of having a bank that would satisfy the needs of Muslims without compromising their religious beliefs, every day is a different challenge,” Helmi said.

“Islamic finance is in essence an enabler.”

Panelists agreed that both the crowdfunding and Fintech industries are still in their growth stages, but could yield important opportunities in multiple areas, including artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency and Musharaka Financing.

Conference of Islamic Finance in MadridThe speakers also highlighted the high demand for European businesses to set up operations in Muslim countries.

“If you look at the worldwide financial sector and the Muslim population, there are many opportunities for growth. By 2030 the Muslim population will be more than 30% of the world population. All Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments are putting their best efforts to diversify the economy and digitalize the industry, the potential is huge,” added IE’s Islamic Finance Professor Emilio Escartín.

The second panel “Halal Food & Beverage Trade Aspects” stressed the halal-friendly food and beverage industry, expected to grow to $1.9 trillion dollars by 2023. The speakers highlighted the need to promote halal food and beverage trade between Dubai’s hub and Spain, one of the largest producers and exporters of halal products.

Conference of Islamic Finance in Madrid“We started considering that there was the demand for our Port to become a Halal port. We did that because there is a big opportunity not only for the port, but for the companies in our influence area,” suggested Nicolás Martínez, Head of Business Development at the Port of Algeciras Bay in Spain.

Other speakers noted the growing demand for halal products and specialized businesses, such as Cebi’s Halalbooking.com, which connects halal-conscious travelers with halal-friendly hotel and accommodation booking options in over 70 countries, with the biggest market being the European one.

“It’s a multi-billion-dollar market, why not penetrate it?” Cebi asked.

The Islamic Finance & Tourism Conference came just ahead of the Islamic Finance Executive Program, set to take place on April 29th to May 2nd in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with in-class sessions, round tables and company visits designed to enable business opportunities in the Muslim world.