What are the key themes of this year’s Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES)?

Hamad BUAMIM: The Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) this year will continue focusing on the vision of Dubai to be Capital of the Islamic Economy. We'll focus on Islamic finance, halal food, Shariah compliance, tourism, standardization, and the issue of arts, culture, and education.

Through the Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES), we work closely with Dubai Islamic Economic Development Center (DIEDC) to put a platform where people debate and discuss these important sectors. Of course, it also has opportunities for the business community to represent over there. There is networking being done to understand more and more of the opportunities.

How close are we to unification or recognition of a global standard on halal products?

hamad BUAMIM: We still believe there is a long way to go in the global standardization of the halal foods and products. This issue started to be addressed in the last few years and we realize there are challenges because you have to align many different economies, many different countries and many different standards. Of course, the good thing is that the discussion has already started.

In Dubai, we started focusing more and more on how to lead with this issue. We have in Dubai some efforts that are already started, and a lot of dialogue has already started with different authorities and leading countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. We hope during our summit we'll be able to discuss a lot of what we want to achieve and the way forwards. However, we still believe there is a long way to go.

In what areas is Dubai playing a leadership role in the Islamic economy?

hamad BUAMIM: We identified the area of Islamic fashion as one of the areas that has a lot of potential going forwards. The other area is halal tourism. Dubai is one of the leading cities around the world when it gets to the number of tourists, and it has a big vision going forwards, we'll have 20 million tourists by year 2020.

The global halal tourism industry is around $140bn, that's 12% of the global spending on tourism. Dubai is one of the fastest tourism cities around the world and I believe by working together and focusing on these sectors, many opportunities can be identified and developed going further.

When you look of course at Dubai, we've been doing quite well when it gets to tourism, and we understand it quite well and we believe that many things can be done to address this important area. Dubai can contribute a lot from its experience, and when you look at this size, it's a very sizable industry that needs to be addressed going forwards.

How do you want Dubai to be positioned relative to the world’s other Islamic economy hubs?

hamad BUAMIM: Dubai announced its vision to be the capital of the Islamic Economy, globally, and with that role, we would like play the leading role with Islamic economy. Of course, it's a journey and it’s started. When you look at the different indicators of all the different pillars, the United Arab Emirates and Dubai are ranked in the top, comparing to others. Again, and we said, a lot of things have to be done to continue our goal to play a leading role.

But one thing is very important to keep in mind that this is a new area, there are a lot of things to do and we believe that the different hubs, whether it's London in Europe or Malaysia in Asia, have to complement each other to be able to deal with the challenges and to take the Islamic economy discussions and area forwards.

What is being done to improve Islamic economy related information, research, training, and skills development?

hamad BUAMIM: One thing we realized with the Islamic economy, there is a shortage of information, and one thing we started to address in partnership with a number of providers such as Thomson Reuters is content and issuing more research. Through our partnership in the Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES), we've been issuing reports and updating them on the size of the expenditures, what can be done, and understanding more and more of the economy and the sub-sectors of the economy.

One important thing is to showcase what can be done and opportunities, and that's where the private sector, by understanding more, they can definitely contribute more to the Islamic economy and to taking it further.