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Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Courses on Islamic finance hold promise

When Rubina Shaikh, an MBA from a B-school in Pune, appeared for a job interview with a Kuala Lumpur-based investment bank, the first question she was asked was whether she knew something about Islamic banking and the monetary principles applied in such type of banking. She later joined a consultancy firm in Bangalore, but decided to build her knowledge of Shariah laws through a short-term online course. For Rubina and a growing number of students from India, who want to have a grounding in Islamic finance, the news is that there are now a few academic institutes who have just started or will soon commence courses on Islamic finance and banking. Hyderabad-based Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance (IIBF), which currently offers online diploma programmes on Islamic banking and finance has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Hyderabad to work on the possibility of offering a two year Post Graduate Degree in Islamic Economics, Banking and Finance. IIBF is looking to cater to students who would normally take their courses from Morocco, Nigeria and Singapore. Currently, the institute has 230 enrolments of which nearly one-third are from Kerala, owing to the tendency of the state-youth to look for jobs in West Asia. The institute is thinking of setting up study centres in Kerala, Bangalore, Kolkata and parts of North India. According to MA Majeed Zubair,dean IIBF, it is not just those working or aspiring to work in West Asia who take up the course but students from prestigious institutes in the country, persuing their MBA, also sign up for the online course. An international institute too has launched this course to cater to the demand. The Securities and Investment Institute (SII) from London which conducts finance qualification tests, has just launched a certificate programme in Islamic finance of around 72 hours at its Indian office at Mumbai. Arwa Tapia, head of client liaison, SII says though the institute sees a lot potential in courses on Islamic finance in India, it will take a year or two before it catches up with other professional courses like those on the BPO industry and IT practitioners, for which it sees maximum growth. Malaysia-based Islamic Financial Services Board and Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Development Bank estimate that the Islamic financial services industry worldwide, including banking assets, may grow to $2.8 trillion by 2010 from $1 trillion at present. This could mean a huge demand for workforce with an Islamic finance educational background. However, the institutes may not be able to meet the demand as qualified instructors to teach the subject are few in number. “Since there are very few qualified instructors on Islamic finance in India, we have to invite international scholars and Islamic law practitioners from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Malaysia,” said Zafar Sareshwala, director of Ahmedabad-based Parsoli Corporation, which launched India’s first Islamic index. He added that finance and English language modules would have to be imparted to those with Post Graduation in Islamic Theology to fulfill the requirements for an instructor to the course. - (BS, 1 August 07)

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