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Sunday, 11 November 2007

Win-Win Strategy For Malaysia & Gulf States In Islamic Finance

DUBAI, Nov 4 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's aspiration to be a reputable international Islamic financial centre should not be seen as a threat to Dubai's aspiration of itself becoming one, an investment conference was told here.The Financial Ambassador for the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC), Raja Nazrin Shah, said the market for Islamic products is still in its infancy and should not be limited to a few financial institutions and products."If we have only a limited number of financial institutions and products - whether in Kuala Lumpur or Dubai - we risk affecting the development of the infant."By allowing the market to grow and by allowing issuers and investors choice of quality, services and products, both countries will in fact be working in complementary ways towards a common goal," the Raja Muda of Perak said in his keynote address at an investment conference "Why Invest in Malaysia?"The conference is part of the programme of a mission to Dubai and Abu Dhabi organised by the Kuala Lumpur Business Club (KLBC) from Nov 3 to 7. The mission is aimed at encouraging investment, capital raising and cooperation with the Gulf region.The KLBC delegation members include Securities Commission chairman Datuk Zarinah Anwar, Bank Negara deputy governor Datuk Mohd Razif Abdul Kadir and KLBC chairman and MAS chairman Datuk Munir Majid.Malaysia offers to serve as an investment gateway to Asean whose economic integration opens a market of some 600 million people, with the early bird obviously having first-mover advantages, said Raja Nazrin.Malaysia, he added, has the advantage of being close to both potential issuers of syariah-compliant products and investors."Our institutions are closer to the ground and can work with those seeking capital, as well as potential investors. This opens up more natural opportunities for the two financial centres to lead, manage and place financial products."All this means that it is in Dubai's interest to see the MIFC grow and vice versa. This is not a zero sum proposition. It is a win-win outcome."Raja Nazrin said there are vast potential areas for cooperation and investment between the two countries and regions."One possible area is to tap the Islamic capital markets to finance infrastructure development in the less developed countries."Malaysia will certainly welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you to use both our Islamic capital markets to recycle global wealth into corporate formation and economic development," he told the conference participants.He also pointed out that Malaysia has a dynamic Islamic capital market with active participation by domestic and international conventional players."For example, US dollar-denominated sukuk sold out of Malaysia are always over-subscribed by both conventional and Muslim investors, and conventional issuers also tap the Islamic capital market for funding."He also told the conference participants that Malaysia is undertaking several projects to bring development to all regions in the country.The Iskandar Development Region is one such ambitious project which has already attracted investment commitments, for example, from Dubai World."Other economic development regions have been, and are being, launched throughout the country, offering opportunities in tourism, modern and technologically-driven agriculture, oil & gas, and many other fields. The property and real estate opportunities on offer are outstanding."He added that there are other opportunities "which will only become apparent when one looks at them first-hand and does the hard number-crunching."If we are able to forge strong bonds of relationships, this will facilitate information to flow freely between us and for the benefits of investments to be understood."

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