The third annual Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) took place at Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai on November 26, 2013 in conjunction with World Islamic Retail Banking Conference (WIRBC). Attended by the finest practitioners the industry has to offer and honourable dignitaries from across the world, the event marked an industry milestone and watershed.
Professor Humayon Dar, CEO of the Edbiz Consulting, the organisers of the GIFA, said "GIFA honours the agents and the institutions that continue to contribute to the Islamic banking and finance industry. To become a $1.63 trillion industry in 40 years testifies to the phenomenal efforts of financial institutions, governments and scholars to build the industry almost from dust and sustain it in an ever burgeoning global village. "
The commencing speech by His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah, set the tone for the 3 hour event. He stood at the lectern with immense satisfaction and his message to the audience was one of hope. Islamic finance is young and it still needs time to mature. But it is precocious and its strides are large. Raja Nazrin Shah's speech balanced the good and the concerns of the industry: a practical speech from a pragmatic man.
Thereafter the awards progressed with a total of 24 awards presented. In Pakistan, Islamic finance has grown considerably in the past decade, and this happened under the exacting eyes of HE Shaukat Aziz. This illustrious individual, Prime Minister of Pakistan between 2004 - 2007, oversaw policies that furthered economic growth in the weathered nation while being a keen supporter of the industry. The main award of the night was the Global Islamic Finance Leadership Award and it was handed with pride by HRH Raja Dr Nazrin Shah to the former prime minister.
Notable winners in general category include Oman's Bank Nizwa, awarded Upcoming Bank in Islamic Finance. Oman is making leaps and bounds in the industry and this award is testament of how far the industry has come in the Sultanate. Best Islamic Fund was awarded to F&C Sustainable Opportunities, an indicator of the importance of social responsibility in Islamic finance. ADCB Islamic's Emirati Millionaire Savings Account was awarded the Most Innovative Award, a high honour in an industry that strengthens innovation and creativity. Best Islamic Microfinance Award was awarded to Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia, a Malaysian based organisation that has worked closely with the government to tackle poverty though developing entrepreneurs. National Bonds won Best Savings Product, and had this to say about winning:
"We are honoured to receive this very prestigious industry distinction for 'Best Islamic Savings Product 2013'. Such accolades emphasize the positive impact of our ongoing endeavour at National Bonds to provide a unique and diversified approach to facilitating a savings culture within our community. This award makes us even more inspired and determined to continue with our efforts to help society achieve financial sustainability through enabling and educating the public on the short and long-term benefits of putting something away for a rainy day."
Other winners included Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), winner of the Best Islamic Bank. DIB was the first ever Islamic bank opening in 1975. It has become the largest Islamic bank in the UAE continuing its tradition of offering Islamic banking services to Shari'a sensitive consumers. Islamic Finance Personality of the Year was awarded to Hasan Al Jabri, CEO of SEDCO Capital. The company has been instrumental in structuring high quality deals for investors seeking adherence to Shari'a principles. Best Islamic Banker was awarded to Dato' Sri Zukri Samat, Manager of Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad. Dato' Sri Zukri Samat did much to turnaround the fortunes of Bank Islam after a period of difficulty. Upcoming Personality was awarded to Moinuddin Malim, CEO of Mashreq Al Islami. These awards were presented by HE Mr Shahid Malik, Former British Minister for International Development.
Rizwan Malik, Manager at Edbiz Consulting, responded when asked about the purpose of the Awards with this comment: "The GIFA is about growth; the industry needs to keep looking up and pushing forward and each year the GIFA will celebrate those institutions and individuals that have contributed significantly to the growth of the industry. But for this year, the deserved winners can walk home proud for doing much for the industry. Next year a new story will be written but that is a story that will continue a tradition of celebrating pioneers in the industry"