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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Malaysia: Dr Zahid Urges Malaysian Firms To Expand Into OIC Countries

SHAH ALAM, Nov 19 (Bernama) -- Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi Wednesday urged local firms involved in Islamic based businesses to expand their business to the member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

The Islamic business and financial market offers an alternative venue for Malaysian companies in the midst of the challenges brought by the current global financial crisis, he said in his keynote address at the launch of the International Islamic Hub in i-City, the 29-hectare digital township here.

"In view of this, it is timely for all business sectors to look into the possibility of using Islamic instruments and Islamic financial institution services in place of the present conventional financial instrument and banking," Dr Ahmad Zahid said.

He said the recent global financial meltdown had illustrated the need for a system based on profit sharing principle, where both parties in a contract are subjected to potential losses and returns, something which is underlined under the Islamic business principles.

Under the Islamic system, both parties would have a win-win situation as losses would not burden only one party, he pointed out.

He said many of the OIC economies were showing strong fundamental growth potential and were increasingly becoming part of the global emerging markets, while a variety of existing and new forums have been established to promote OIC based corporate interaction and to help leverage trade opportunities.

Malaysia recently organised the World Islamic Tourism Conference and Expo 2008 and played its role in the establishment of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance in this country to overcome the shortage of finance staff with Syariah knowledge.

Dr Ahmad Zaid Wednesday also commended i-City for taking the initiative to engage with the OIC community.

"Its strategic alliance with Al Rajhi Banking Group in its cybercentre office development is a reflection of the opportunities that are available with the OIC member countries," he said.

He said Malaysia was also unique in its promotion of Islamic financial products as it marketed them both in the English and Bahasa Malaysia language, and where the non-Muslims understood them, unlike other countries where the products were promoted mostly in Arabic.

Dr Ahmad Zahid also said he had advised Islamic scholars here not to use difficult Arabic words like Bai Bithamin Ajil in promoting Islamic based loans but to simplify the terms to BBA for example, so as not to "scare" the people.

He also called on Muslims and non-Muslims to do away with their differences and work together to promote Islamic financial products as one did not have to be a Muslim to promote Islamic products.

Meanwhile, the director of I-Bhd, Eu Hong Chew, said in his presentation Wednesday that the company has set aside two hectares from its total development area of i-City for the international Islamic hub.

The hub will consist of an Information Communication Technology Centre for OIC countries, Islamic Financial Education Centre, Support Centre for Halal Product Logistic and Islamic Resource Centre.

Eu said the centres will help in the development of Islamic knowlegde based economy as they would provide cost effective operations and provide the environment for innovation of new ideas in the development of Islamic business and finance sectors.

The centres are expected to cost around RM800 million and their completion would be between three and four years.

i-City which is developed by I-Bhd provides high speed broadband connectivity at 20 megabit per second, and its features include a backup power supply system, data centre and fibre optics interconnectivity among the buildings. Among its other facilities will be a shopping mall, hotel and office towers.

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