The pre-forum events of the World Islamic Economic Forum took place today, namely the Businesswomen and Young Leaders Forums.
Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak, chair of the WIEF young leaders network, kicked off the day commenting on the economic crisis, saying that it “wasn’t a crisis in the system, but of the system”, and that a radical overhaul was needed. The Muslim world was in a strong position because of liquidity in the Middle East and the principles of Islamic finance. The latter could be the foundations of a necessary new architecture.
Dato’ Dr Norraesah Mohamad, chair of the WIEF Businesswomen Network pointed out that women would be the most affected by the downturn, particularly in terms of unemployment. The irony is that if women had been more prominent, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in – men are risk takers. If only it had been Lehman Sisters instead of Lehman Brothers.
There was a more detailed session on Islamic finance, which will also be covered in the WIEF proper. Yuslam Fauzi, President Director of Bank Syariah Mandiri, reminded everyone that welfare is the main objective of Islam and Islamic finance is a key method of achieving this. Meanwhile, welfare in Muslim countries is pitifully low. The 1990 Human Development Index, measuring life expectancy, education and per capita GDP, placed Muslim countries lower than non-Muslim ones. Only two states – Kuwait and Brunei, with a combined population of only 2.5m – made the top 30. No Muslim countries made the top thirty in the education index.
Gita Wirjawan is co-chairman of Ancora Capital which has brought Middle East capital into Indonesia through Islamic finance. He said Indonesia is relatively to IF, but has found rapid results in a short space of time and can see further opportunities.
In the evening, we had the opportunity to see more of Jakarta. We saw Barack Obama’s school AKA madrassah. Remarkable looking at where one of its kids got to. Also visited the wonderful Istiqlal Mosque and the Jakarta’s National Monument (Monas). I took some pictures, but unfortunately forgot my connecting wire at home, so you’ll have to wait for my return.
Some observations. A lot of football gets played in this city. Any patch of grass gets taken up with kids jumping on and having a game. It struck me that this has been all but eliminated outside of expensive sports centres back home. Also I was surprised to learn that it is compulsory for all children to be Scouts between elementary and high school, in order for them to learn essential skills.
Posted by Osama Saeed
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