The College of Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) presented an international conference “Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Development and the Halal Economy: Concepts, Framework and Practice” on March 27-28.
The conference was a result of a collaboration between the college, Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA), and Qatar Development Bank (QDB) – two key stakeholders in the Qatari entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Expert-led discussions provided unique perspectives on under-researched areas, aiming to supplement the literature gap on entrepreneurial activities promoting sustainable development and the halal economy. Framing the conference was a recognition of the significant role of entrepreneurs in providing appropriate halal goods and services that satisfy the needs of Muslim populations and have the unique features and characteristics that fulfill religious values and principles. The conference addressed growing opportunities within the halal economy, which is estimated to grow up to $6.04 trillion by 2024.
Largely dominated by Islamic finance and the halal food industry, there is a requirement to promote innovation across the other sectors including travel, modest fashion, media and recreation, halal cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The fourth industrial revolution and the growing need for digitalization presents opportunities for Islamic FinTechs to prosper in the growing halal economy.
Welcome remarks by Dr. Habib Ahmed, Professor and Sharjah Chair in Islamic Law and Finance, Durham University, UK, Dr. Emad El-Din Shahin, Dean of CIS, HBKU, and Dr. Syed Nazim Ali, Director of the Research Division, CIS, set the context for the discussions. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Abdulrahman Hesham Al Sowaidi, Acting CEO, QDB.
Four academic sessions over the two days covered topics such as the impacts and challenges of Islamic entrepreneurship in the halal economy, ethnographic perspectives of entrepreneurship, policy, and financing models for advancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Speakers exchanged insights on best practices research (theoretical, conceptual, and empirical) and engaged on the approaches adopted by Qatar, Nigeria, the UK, Malaysia, India, and other countries. In addition, two panel sessions titled, ‘Impact Banking for SMEs and the Halal Economy’ and ‘Islamic FinTechs and the Halal Economy’ were held with industry experts in an effort to bridge the gap between academia and the industry.
The final session, “Islamic FinTechs and the Halal Economy”, included pitch presentations by QFC-licensed FinTech companies, Cieltech, Bawaba, Dipsy, Vnueron, SkipCash, and Ethis. QFC is addressing the growing need for digitalization by helping Qatar’s emergence as a regional FinTech hub. QFC has been supporting digital innovation and entrepreneurship through a number of initiatives ranging from the QFC Tech Circle to its Tech Talk Series.
Dr. Dalal Aassouli, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at CIS, HBKU, said after the conference: “Entrepreneurs continue to have a key role in achieving sustainable development and fulfilling societal needs even as initiatives have evolved over time to adjust to changing needs, innovative digital technologies, and the unique issues facing societies face today. Like other countries, Qatar is nurturing entrepreneurship to tackle a range of challenges from climate change to economic and social issues. It’s fitting for CIS to be leading discussions, bringing together HBKU’s efforts as an innovation-based, entrepreneurial university with our work to provide a context for ethically grounded economies Islamic values. We thank all our speakers, moderators and industry partners for their thought-provoking presentations which will continue to have resonance for research efforts that follow the conference.”
The College of Islamic Studies provides a unique platform that contributes to critical intellectual debates on Islam in a global context, through its blended academic programs and an immersive learning experience; as well as its distinguished research division, which includes several research centers and clusters.