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The Highlights of China-Arab Cooperation in the Field of Security

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By  Dr. Nadia Helmy

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-GCC Summit in Riyadh, we would like to conduct a short interview with you talking about the importance of this summit and the China-Arab Friendship based on our knowledge about the most special characteristics of the first China-Arab States Summit and the highlights of the summit. As what makes the summit extremely important, in addition to the agreements that will be signed, is its timing at a time when the world is witnessing changes, the transition to a multipolar world, the collapse of the unipolar policy, and stagnation in the global economy, and it also comes at a time when the conflict between Washington and Beijing is raging, and the arrival of US-Saudi relations  to their lowest levels, and the countries of the region diversifying their relations by strengthening their relations with China, Russia, India and others.

The summit comes after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, and the start of building a new world order, as the Arab power is currently in a different international situation. The Arab-Chinese Summit, which is being held in Riyadh, represents a quantum leap in the development of Arab-Chinese relations, and carries a large number of important economic and political implications.

This Chinese-Saudi-Gulf Arab summit lays down an institutional framework for Arab-Chinese relations through which it delineates the goals, mechanisms and future of this cooperation, which contributes to the development of relations at all economic, political, security and cultural levels.  $36 billion to $330 billion in 2021.

There are also many promising opportunities and joint investments that can be employed between the two sides, especially in the field of digital technology, renewable energy, labor-intensive industries and entrepreneurship projects. The summit will also discuss many promising investment opportunities with China, in the presence of Egypt and a large number of prominent Arab and Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have ambitious development visions and important investment opportunities such as giant national projects, perhaps the most prominent of which are the following projects:

The development hub of the Suez Canal and the new administrative capital in Egypt.  The NEOM project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Ambitious development projects in the UAE, all of which represent an attractive and promising environment for huge Chinese investments.

Here, China Is of great importance to the Arab side, by benefiting from the Chinese development experience, which was based on labor-intensive projects, as well as small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurship projects. Since the beginning of this year, the China-Arab cooperation has continued to deepen. During this summit, energy cooperation is a major focus, new and renewable energy cooperation is also a major focus. So, the main questions emerging, are:

Why does this kind of cooperation attract everyone’s attention? What are the highlights of China-Arab cooperation (in the field of security, etc.)?

Here, we should know that the Chinese companies already play an important role in many countries in the Middle East, through direct Chinese investments in addition to many large infrastructure contracts awarded to Chinese companies. Chinese companies are building ports and free trade zones in the region, including in Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  Cooperation between China and Arab countries has also grown to include digital technology, renewable energy, tourism and aviation.  Most of the GCC countries use Chinese Huawei technology in their communications networks.

In my view, the biggest focus on the Arab-Chinese summit remains:

-The ability of China and the Arab countries to agree to sell Arab oil in Chinese yuan instead of dollars, which means the beginning of the end of the notorious petrodollar policy.

The ability to sign security agreements with China will provide it with a foothold in the region, as a future alternative to the United States of America.  Especially in light of the Gulf states’ need for allies, especially as they live in a state of strategic vulnerability that makes them unable to protect themselves.

-China’s participation in providing waterways and international trade routes, especially in the Strait of Hormuz, which is a high-risk area.

Here, Beijing is keen to interact with the Arab region under one umbrella, which is confirmed by the Chinese-Arab cooperation forums. However, this does not prevent the priority of West Asian countries, especially the Arab Gulf states and the Gulf Cooperation Council, in China’s grand strategy, as the region most capable of providing safe fuel.  To China, the “factory of the world” and the open market with high purchasing power, as well as the geopolitical advantages represented by its sea lanes and the location of that strategic region that place it at the heart of the Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative, especially the Maritime Silk Road, which is represented in the Arabian Gulf region and the Red Sea, all the way to  To the Egyptian Suez Canal, a unique path to achieve stable interdependence between the east and west of this world.

Here came the decisions of the “OPEC Plus” group regarding oil production, and its decision to reduce oil production at the request of the Saudi side in solidarity with Russia in its war against Ukraine and in support of China’s position, as a kind of match and competition theory, in which China competes with the United States.  America on the international stage, especially in the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia is considered the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), so the United States of America showed its frustration with the Saudi oil decision to reduce oil production, with officials in Washington believing that the conflict with Russia in Ukraine is a decisive moment that will shape the future of the global system, with their agreement also in the American administration that American hegemony over allies and historical partners in the region and the Arabian Gulf has begun to diminish in favor of fierce competitors such as China and Russia.

Dr.Nadia Helmy is an Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit


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What To Expect From the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum 2024?

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The Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum (KLIFF) 2024 is poised to be a pivotal event in the Islamic finance industry, building on the momentum of its previous editions. The forum has consistently served as a crucial platform for discussions on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in Islamic finance, drawing attention to the innovative strides and potential growth areas within the sector.

Key Expectations from KLIFF 2024

  • Industry Leadership and Expert Insights: The forum is expected to host a distinguished lineup of speakers from various sectors of Islamic finance, including banking, fintech, asset management, and more. Previous editions have seen influential figures such as Dima Djani, CEO of Hijra Group, and Jamaludin Bujang, Managing Partner (Malaysia) at Gobi Partners, sharing their insights, which indicates the caliber of thought leadership that attendees can anticipate in 2024​.
  • Sustainable and Ethical Finance Focus: A significant emphasis on sustainable and ethical finance principles is likely, reflecting a global trend towards more responsible investment practices. This aligns with the broader objectives of Islamic finance to contribute positively to society and the environment. Discussions may revolve around leveraging Islamic finance and social finance for sustainable future, as seen in previous forums​
  • Global Islamic Fintech Outlook: The rapid growth and innovation in Islamic fintech will likely be a central theme, given its increasing prominence in offering Shariah-compliant financial solutions worldwide. The previous edition highlighted the sector’s expansion, including the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency, emphasizing the role of digital banking in enhancing financial inclusion and the importance of regulatory frameworks to support industry growth​
  • Networking and Collaboration Opportunities: KLIFF 2024 will provide invaluable networking opportunities, facilitating connections between industry stakeholders, including investors, policymakers, and professionals. This collaboration is essential for fostering innovation and exploring new ventures in the Islamic finance landscape.
  • Support from Industry Leaders: The forum’s impact is underscored by the support it receives from leading entities in the Islamic finance sector. For instance, Principal Asset Management’s partnership for the IFN Investor Asia Forum 2024, scheduled in Kuala Lumpur, indicates the level of industry backing and commitment to advancing Islamic finance​
  • Innovative Solutions and Best Practices: Attendees can expect to learn about the latest innovative solutions and best practices within Islamic finance, including advancements in Sukuk, Islamic banking, asset management, and more. The event will likely showcase cutting-edge research, case studies, and success stories from around the globe.

The Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum (KLIFF) 2024 is set to be a landmark event, highlighting the growing importance and dynamism of the Islamic finance industry. With a focus on sustainability, technological innovation, and global collaboration, KLIFF 2024 will offer attendees a comprehensive view of the sector’s current state and future directions. By gathering experts, thought leaders, and practitioners from around the world, the forum will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the Islamic finance landscape, promoting development, and addressing the evolving needs of the global economy.


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OIC Secretary-General Calls on OIC Member States to Invest More in Critical Sectors of the Economy

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On the 4th of December 2023, the President of the Republic of Türkiye, His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inaugurated the 39th Session of the OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), in Istanbul. The ceremony was attended by the OIC Secretary-General and Member States’ concerned ministers.

In his Statement, President Erdogan highlighted the grave situation in Gaza and the rising trend of Islamophobia and emphasized the need for all OIC Member States to have a unified position to address current challenges facing the Muslim Ummah.

He also underscored the importance of implementing the Trade Preferential System among OIC Member States as well as supporting the OIC Arbitration Centre, developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and halal industries towards promoting sustainable socio-economic growth in OIC Member States.

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 39th Session of COMCEC, H.E Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), acknowledged the continued support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Chairman of COMCEC, towards the realization of various economic programs and projects of the OIC.

Referring to the tragic massacres taking in Gaza and Palestine generally, the Secretary-General called upon the international community to intervene urgently to put an end to Israel’s criminal aggression and murder of Palestinians. While highlighting the activities of OIC and its institutions in the economic domain during the last one year, the Secretary-General emphasized the need to further enhance intra-OIC cooperation in the vital sectors of the economy.

Especially in the food and agriculture sector, to build more resilient food systems, share knowledge and best practices in order to help develop domestic production capacities in OIC Member States. Accordingly, he called for greater cooperation, harmonization, and synergizing of efforts toward addressing the developmental challenges of OIC Member States.

The Opening Ceremony was also addressed by Ministers in charge of trade from Qatar, Senegal, and Kazakstan in their capacities as representatives of Arab, African, and Asian groups

The 39th Session of COMCEC is being attended by Ministers in charge of trade and economy of the OIC Member States as well as OIC institutions and international organizations. The Session will review the status of implementation of various projects under the COMCEC in the areas of trade and investment, agriculture, tourism and financial development, Private Sector, and poverty alleviation among others. The theme of the 39th COMCEC Sessions is “Improving E-Commerce Capacities of the OIC Member Countries”.

COMCEC is an OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation, which meets annually to review OIC activities in the economic and trade development domains.


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14th World Islamic Economic Forum Discusses Key Global Economic Growth Themes

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The 14th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), scheduled for 6-8 February 2024 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), promises to be a pivotal event in shaping the global economic landscape. Under the theme ‘Global Economic Agenda: Shaping a Sustainable Future,’ this forum will delve into a wide array of pressing economic issues, especially focusing on the integration of technology in shaping future economic trends.

A key highlight of the 14th WIEF is the exploration of East Asia’s burgeoning economic clout. As this region becomes increasingly influential in the global market, the forum will examine its impact on global economic dynamics. This is particularly relevant considering reports from institutions like the Asian Development Bank, which forecast East Asia’s continuous growth trajectory in the coming years.

The convergence of technology and sustainability will also be a central theme. With the world rapidly evolving, the forum aims to chart new paths for economic development, emphasizing sustainable practices. This aligns with global trends highlighted in reports by the United Nations and World Economic Forum, which stress the critical role of sustainable development in future economic growth.

The increasing economic prominence of the Middle East, especially in the context of global markets, is another focal point. Reports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other economic research institutions underline the Middle East’s expanding role in shaping global economic policies and trends.

Tan Sri Dr. Syed Hamid Albar, Chairman of the WIEF Foundation, emphasizes the forum’s importance as a pivotal platform for global economic dialogue. The event will feature a plethora of plenary sessions, in-depth panel discussions, and networking opportunities, addressing topics like youth integration in the AI-driven labor market, the empowerment of women in technology, the synergy between Islamic finance and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing, and innovative strategies for food security.

MOCAfest, an integral part of the Forum, will celebrate the vital role of creative industries in economic and social development. This festival will be a melting pot for artists from diverse cultures, showcasing their talents and fostering a vibrant cultural exchange.

About the World Islamic Economic Forum Foundation (WIEF): Established in 2006, the WIEF Foundation has been at the forefront of enhancing global economic cooperation. It focuses on trade opportunities, business networking, and capacity building programs, primarily through its annual forum. WIEF brings together influential figures from government, industry, academia, and other sectors to discuss contemporary issues and trends in the global economy. The 14th WIEF, with its emphasis on sustainable future shaping, reaffirms this commitment.


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