“Islamic Davos” in Astana Produces
Valuable Initiatives, Practical Deals
Astana, June 10: President Nursultan Nazarbayev of
Kazakhstan put forward a series of initiatives calling to modernise the Islamic
world at the 7th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) at the Palace of
Independence in Astana on Wednesday. An extensive business dialogue platform of
the Muslim world or the so-called “Islamic Davos” took place in the Kazakh
capital on June 7-9, having gathered more than 2,000 government
representatives, academic scholars, heads of industry, professionals and
corporate managers from across the globe. The forum’s main theme was
“Globalising Growth: Connect, Compete, Collaborate”.
event, held for the first time in Central Asia, gained particular relevance
ahead of the late-June Astana Ministerial of the Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC). The remarkably diverse list of participants and invitees who
came to the Kazakh capital to discuss most pressing issues related to the
Organization’s activity involved President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh,
Vice-President of Indonesia Professor Boediono, Prime Ministers Dato Sri Mohd
Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia and Oqil Oqilov of Tajikistan, as well as
Islamic Development Bank (IDB) President Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al Madani and
Chairman of WIEF Foundation Tun Musa bin Hitam.
In his address to the participants of the
Forum, President stressed: “Islam as a religion is not experiencing any kind of
crisis. This is one of the most dynamic religions of the present-day world. It
is only some regions of the Islamic community that experience the crisis”.
The necessity to modernise the Muslim
community is obvious. And modernisation of society doesn’t stand for distortion
of fundamentals of Islam itself, Nazarbayev said: “We must work together to
build a positive image of Islam as a religion of peace, kindness, tolerance and
In this respect, Kazakh leader proposed a
series of initiatives which the OIC countries could implement together. Among
them was the suggestion that a dialogue platform of the group of ten major
Muslim economies was established, given that the resources of Ummah afford to
form a massive financial pool for investment cooperation.
In view of the Islamic countries’
technological gap, Nazarbayev also encouraged the establishing of an
International innovation hub with the participation of interested OIC states.
Another initiative to support small and medium enterprises (SME) implies convening
a WIEF ad hoc working group and discussing on the forum platform the creation
of a special fund of SMEs under IDB.
“We are interested in the cooperation with
the Islamic countries in terms of attracting Islamic finance instruments.
According to expert estimates, growth potential of Islamic investment in
Kazakhstan in the short term may reach dozens of billions of US dollars”,
Kazakh President underscored.
Taking into account the main condition for
expansion of cooperation is the availability of the transport and communication
schemes, and that today Kazakhstan is extensively using its geo-economic
position by developing “Western Europe – Western China” international transit
corridor, Nazarbayev invited IDB to increase its involvement in financing the
construction of “Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran” railway stretching 963 km with
the value of project totalling US$ 1.5 billion.
The last proposal is aimed at consolidating
food security, and for that end requires elaborating a system of food
assistance in the OIC region.
“Setting up a regional fund similar to FAO
under IDB Group and food pool of the OIC Member States may become a basis for
such system. I propose to allocate its headquarters in Kazakhstan, in a country
which actively develops its food export potential”, Nazarbayev said.
The Kazakh leader’s remarks found warm
welcome among a diverse audience at the Astana WIEF which included leading
politicians, business people, and experts from all over the Islamic world and
On the forum’s first day Kazakh Prime
Minister Karim Massimov explained his view of the Kazakh economic development
to the participants.
“We want to increase the contribution of
small and medium businesses up to 40 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) by
the end of the decade,” he said. “To achieve this goal, we are improving
education, reducing the administrative burden on business and making more free
access to elite resources.”
The diverse agenda of the WIEF sessions
included the development of financial infrastructure, the problems of the
Islamic banking, the Halal industry, small and medium-sized businesses,
alternative sources of energy, as well as food security and economic potential
Like the event’s previous editions, this
time the dialogue platform was followed by the forum of businesswomen and young
leaders, as well as the 2011 WIEF expo.
Following the sessions of the forum, a
number of agreements between Kazakh government agencies, business structures
and Islamic financial institutions were signed, including the one on the
Islamic Development Bank’s allocation of US$ 10 million to support farming in
Kazakhstan. The corresponding agreement was signed by President of IDB Ahmad
Mohamed Ali Al Madani and CEO of the “Fund for Financial Support of
Agriculture” Gulnaz Atamkulova. In addition, Deputy Prime Minister - Minister
of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev and President of IDB group
Mohamed Ali Al Madani signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between
Kazakh government and IDB.
Agreements and contracts covering banking
and financial services, information, communication and technology, food
industry, education and training sectors were also signed during the event. The
list of MoUs signed within the forum involved that between JSC “NAEI Kaznex Invest”
and Malaysian chamber of trade, JSC National Holding Zerde and MIMOS Berhad, as
well as JSC “National informational technologies” and My E.G. Services Berhad.
As for the AmanahRaya Group Capital of Malaysia and JSC “Fattah Finance” of
Kazakhstan, the parties concluded the agreement on strategic partnership.
Another supply and license agreement was
signed between Director of the Fattah Shop Company Yerlan Zhansayitov and Chief
operations Director of the Halagel SDN BHD, Malaysia Muhammad Azhar bin Abdullah.
The forum concluded with final remarks by
Asset Issekeshev and Chairman of the WIEF Foundation Tun Musa bin Hitam. The
speakers emphasised the Forum had become an important and effective mechanism
for maintenance and development of socio-economic and cultural-humanitarian
cooperation between the Islamic states. The increasing number of the agreements
and contracts signed within WIEF reflects the advancement in cooperation
between its members, Musa bin Hitam said.
“WIEF Secretariat will review in details
all the initiatives set forth by Kazakh side and will exert every effort to
create the required conditions for their implementation”, he stressed.
Final resolution of the 7th WIEF adopted
following the results of the forum provided an extensive list of
recommendations for the member countries on key areas of the institution’s
Full speech of the President of Kazakhstan