By Madeleine White, capacity building and communications specialist.
Changing World, New Relationships – a Message from the World Islamic Economic Forum in London
I am at the opening session of the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum in the Excel conference centre London. Before me are 16 world leaders – from HM King Abdullah II of Jordan, to Prime Minister Razak of Malaysia, to HE Dr Rowsch N Shaways, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq and the British PM, David Cameron. All have spoken.
The tone of these addresses has made the reason for holding this Forum in London (as opposed to a centre within the Islamic world) clear – this conference is about the desire for outward collaboration creating inward investment. Therefore as David Cameron reiterates in his speech, London is seen as the right hub to support this nation building, based the capital’s history of openness and a pioneering approach to global business.
This is supported by the stated intent to be one of the top three Islamic finance centres in the world, supporting a new kind of global interdependence – defined by a conjoined ‘quality of growth’ at its heart.
The speeches made it clear that harmonising the power of globalisation is seen as a key driver of national growth, in Dr Shaways’ view even serving to heal divisions that exist on a national level. However, to action this, national identity needs to translate into a puzzle piece that successfully answers global need. This requires full engagement of citizens, indeed as the IDB’s president put it, “ a thriving local human economy”, able to translate skills and ideas to serve local, global and national need.
Leveraging access to technology was seen as a crucial factor, with nations needing to deliver the level of education required to take advantage of the opportunities it offers. The pursuit of knowledge as a key tenet of Islam was given as a particular driver of national education and skills building within the Muslim world.