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Asia-Pacific universities add Islamic-finance classes

Asia-Pacific universities add Islamic-finance classes

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FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES. KUALA LUMPUR — With the Islamic finance industry worth an estimated $1 trillion and growing rapidly, it is perhaps no surprise that a number of Asia-Pacific nations are among a growing band of countries worldwide to signal their intention to carve out a larger share of the market.

Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, along with Hong Kong, have set their sights on becoming hubs for Islamic finance, where investments are made according to Islamic principles. (Under Shariah, or Islamic law, charging interest and making investments in industries like gambling and alcohol are forbidden.)

While their sectors may be at varying stages of development, they are facing a common predicament: a shortage of professionals skilled in Islamic finance.

Education institutions around the Asia-Pacific region, like their counterparts in the Middle East and Europe, are increasingly seeking to fill that gap by adding Islamic finance specialization to their master’s programs in business administration and elsewhere.

The number of such courses available in Kuala Lumpur, home to the most developed Islamic finance sector in the region, is growing rapidly. A number of business schools now offer Islamic finance components as part of their M.B.A. programs, and the Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, a private institution in Kuala Lumpur, will offer a new M.B.A. in Global Islamic Finance for students enrolled for the semester starting in October.

Malaysia’s International Center for Education in Islamic Finance, which was established by the central bank in 2006, is working with a growing number of universities around the region and elsewhere to help them start Islamic finance courses.

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