The Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has extensively implemented initiatives in tandem with the growth and rapid developments in the global Islamic banking and finance industry. In realising the need for a strong and dynamic workforce to retain the industry's competitiveness, the government of His Majesty through the Centre for Islamic Banking, Finance and Management has implemented programmes to develop the capacity and competency of Islamic finance practitioners in the country. In consolidating these initiatives, the Brunei Darussalam Financial Sector Blueprint 2016 - 2025 has also been developed.

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Deputy Sultan unveiled the matter in a sabda at the Opening Ceremony of the 5th ASEAN Universities International Conference on Islamic Finance, AICIF, yesterday morning. The conference carries the theme of 'Issues, Challenges and Future Prospect of Islamic Banking and Finance'. Upon arrival at the Royal Berkshire, Royal Brunei Polo and Riding Club in Jerudong, His Royal Highness the Deputy Sultan was greeted by Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman, Minister of Education, and Doctor Haji Norarfan bin Haji Zainal, the Rector of Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University, UNISSA.

The function commenced with the reading of Surah Al-Fatihah and Doa Selamat led by Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Imam Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Hamid bin Bakal. In his welcoming speech, the Minister of Education who is also the Chairman of UNISSA Council among other things highlighted that the conference will discuss and evaluate the latest developments in Islamic banking and finance that are highly valuable for scholars, practitioners and policymakers for the future of Islamic banking and finance. Apart from that, the conference will also strengthen relations among ASEAN universities that offer Islamic banking and finance programmes.

His Royal Highness in the sabda also stressed that the hosting of the Conference is timely, considering the ever-changing global and regional economic environment that brings new challenges and risks on a daily basis. The challenges facing Islamic banking and finance industry are not unique.Touching on the interconnected world, His Royal Highness said the Syariah principles, which serve as the foundation of Islamic banking and finance industry, need to be continuously upheld and implemented. The prohibition of Riba and unethical practices must always be the moral compass. By doing so, Islamic banking and finance would be able to contribute effectively to the social and economic well-being of the society. This covers upholding the social duty of reducing poverty; boosting shared prosperity; and ensuing fair and equitable distribution of wealth, being the main pillars of Islamic finance.

His Royal Highness officiated the 5th ASEAN Universities International Conference on Islamic Finance. At the conference, His Royal Highness received a Pasambah in the form of "Crystal Flora Vase" adorned with logos of 7 universities as co-organisers of the conference. The analogy behind this is that the ideas and views of regional Islamic Finance scholars are gathered in one platform to be mixed together in order to shape a leading Islamic Finance hub model, in line with the aspiration of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

Since its rise nearly five decades ago, the Islamic Financial Services Industry has proven its viability and resilience in facing global economic challenges and achieve better growth rates from year to year. Professor Doctor Engku Rabiah Adawiyah binti Engku Ali, Professor at the International Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, International Islamic University of Malaysia in her keynote speech entitled 'Issues, Challenges and Future Prospect of Islamic Banking and Finance', explained that in 2015 and 2016, the IFSI recorded a decline in growth rates for all sectors.

This year's AICIF will see the presentation of 130 working working papers. It is co-organised by UNISSA, Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia, UIAM; Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Kalijaga, Jogjakarta; Universitas Islam Sultan Agung, UNISSULA, Semarang, Universitas Darussalam Gontor, Indonesia; Mindanao State University; and Fatoni University of Thailand. It is hoped that such a collaboration between these ASEAN universities can lead to the growth in global expertise network that can raise awareness as well as understanding on new issued faced by the Islamic Financial Services Industry.

Source: Radio Television Brunei