The new agreement signed by the Jeddah-based Islamic Research & Training Institute (IRTI) and the Alexandria-based Arab Academy for Science and Technology will contribute to expanding Islamic banking and finance in the Arab world, said IRTI Director General Mohd Azmi Omar.
Speaking to Arab News, he emphasized the significance of the deal, saying it involves translation of books in Islamic banking and finance into Arabic. “Most books in the industry are now in English,” the director general said.
Omar said the popularity of Islamic banking, which is value-based and production-oriented, is growing rapidly especially after the global financial crisis. “Islamic banks finance productive projects that can boost real economy and do not engage in speculative and unethical business activities,” he said.
Asked why many countries are still reluctant to adopt the Islamic system, Omar said there is a lack of knowledge about the system, its benefits and how it functions. The IDB and IRTI have been spearheading a campaign to promote the system by organizing international conferences and seminars, conducting research and publishing books.
According to World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2013 of Ernst & Young’s, the global Islamic banking assets jumped from $1.3 trillion in 2011 to $1.8 trillion. The Islamic banking industry continues to record robust growth, with the top 20 Islamic banks registering a growth of 16 percent in the last three years, the report said.
Ismail Abdul Ghaffar Faraj, president of the academy, and IRTI chief Omar signed the agreement in the presence of Ahmed Mohamed Ali, president of Islamic Development Bank Group. It was in line with a memorandum of understanding signed by the IDB and the academy in July 2012.
The two sides will organize joint training courses in Islamic economics, Islamic finance and Islamic banking, Omar said, adding that IRTI would select the trainers for each course in coordination with the academy.
In a statement on the occasion, Faraj said the agreement would strengthen the partnership between his organization and the IDB. “I am happy over the good relations between the two institutions,” the academy president said.
The IDB chief said the agreement would help the bank promote Islamic banking and finance in the member countries of Arab League, which are also members of the IDB. An affiliate of the Arab League, the academy is specialized in maritime transport. It was established in 1972.