The leadership of Dubai is making a big push to establish Dubai as the global capital of the Islamic economy. What makes Dubai well suited to take on this role?
CHILWAN: There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Dubai is well-poised to become the global capital of Islamic economy. The Islamic banking industry is a relatively nascent industry. It's only 1% of the global banking markets. At $2 trillion, this is still only the tip of the iceberg. What is heartening to see is that 18% of these assets are housed within the UAE.
Now, Dubai is a non-hydrocarbon economy. So key sectors such as real estate, travel, tourism, hospitality, healthcare, and education all have shown tremendous signs in the last year and are equally poised for future growth.
Keeping this in mind, there's an overwhelming support from the government as the setting up of Dubai's Islamic Economic Development Center has just shown. The six key pillars that they have come up with clearly show that there is a lot to harness as far as Islamic finance is concerned.
I think Dubai is really fantastically well-poised to harness $6.7 trillion of Muslim global expenditure.
What are the main challenges that Dubai will have to overcome to become the Islamic economy’s global capital? What role can innovation play in overcoming these challenges?
CHILWAN: Time and again Dubai has proved that it is capable of handling any financial challenges as well as infrastructural reforms. Having said that, a quarter of the world's population is Muslim with two billion Muslims, not many know about Islamic finance so a lot needs to be done as far as educating those concerned. If Dubai actually wants to become the global capital of Islamic economy there are challenges that they'll be tried for; skill, efficiency, investor confidence are some that come to my mind. And most of these challenges can be overcome just by pure innovation.
Innovation plays a very important part in overcoming the challenges that Dubai would face to become the capital of Islamic economy. Within the Islamic finance industry as such, it is still very nascent, it is a forty year old industry. In order to make sure that Dubai can play a leading role it's got to come out with pioneering structures that the world has not seen. Just incubating Islamic banking is not enough. I think it has to actually go that extra mile in making sure that there are unique and innovative product structures that would try and make it lead in every possible manner.
Apart from Islamic finance, Dubai is focusing on other economic areas, such as halal products and family tourism. How can the Islamic finance sector enable growth in other segments of the Islamic economy?
CHILWAN: The good news is that Dubai is experiencing a remarkable GDP growth. GDP today stands at 4.5% and it will bolster to around 150 basis points closer to the Expo.
Islamic finance has a tremendous opportunity to showcase its potential. There are other pillars of the Islamic economy such as the Halal Foods and the family tourism that are relatively nascent and Islamic finance can actually support these sectors by providing adequate funding as well as the infrastructure platform that is required to make sure that the growth of these sectors is harnessed to their full potential.
The Islamic banking industry is a relatively nascent industry. It's only 1% of the global banking markets. At $2 trillion, this is still only the tip of the iceberg.
What is Dubai Islamic Bank’s contribution to Dubai’s Islamic economy?
CHILWAN: Dubai Islamic Bank is a bank of systemic importance. It's a homegrown product of Dubai. It's was incubated forty years ago; Islamic banking started at Dubai Islamic Bank. Dubai Islamic Bank in my opinion, is a cornerstone of Dubai's ambition; whether it is to become a smart city, or to become the global capital of Islamic economy. The bank would play a major role in making sure that Dubai's ambitions are harnessed.
Back in 2013, DIB launched an innovative hybrid perpetual Tier 1 sukuk that attracted $14bn in orders. What other innovative products and services does Dubai Islamic Bank have coming down the pipeline?
CHILWAN: Our mantra at Dubai Islamic Bank is very simple. We want to be at the forefront of change. Everything that we do keeps revolving around customer centricity. Service and innovation are a very integral part of our strategy. We've continuously invested in our electronic platforms.
We recently completed the rollout of our smart bank concept. It's like walking into an Apple store. It revolutionizes customer experience. For us, change is a continuous process; it's a journey that never ends.
Dubai Islamic Bank is the UAE’s largest bank by assets. What strategies do you employ to foster a culture of innovation at a bank of this size?
CHILWAN: Frankly I cannot see progress without innovation. We are here because of our relentless drive to innovate, and this is the message that I've cascaded to everybody at the bank. When we came out with our vision to become the most progressive Islamic financial institution in the world, we did not use superlatives like the best bank or the biggest bank or the largest bank, because if we are best today, tomorrow we might be second best and I cannot change my vision for that.
Our focus at DIB and our strategy of innovation revolves around two simple words: no limits. We will not limit ourselves to any particular niche or any market segment or to what other people are doing. For us, our relentless drive to innovation is what keeps us ticking. We will go on and on to make sure that Islamic banking is not just seen as an alternative form of banking, but actually becomes a norm of banking.