7th Global Islamic Finance Awards Ceremony held at Astana

7th Global Islamic Finance Awards Ceremony (GIFA Ceremony) was held as a glittery event attended by heads of state and government, ministers, ambassadors and Islamic financial fraternity from around the world. The distinguished guests included Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, Ismail Omar Guilleh, President of Djibouti, Vasil Shaykhraziev, Vice Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan, Bakhyt Sultanov, Minister of Finance, Republic of Kazakhstan, and Kairat Kelimbetov, Governor of Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).

Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) is the most prestigious Islamic finance awards programme in the world, which was founded in 2011 by Edbiz Corporation as part of its advocacy for Islamic banking and finance. Since then it has annually been offering its top award – Global Islamic Finance Leadership Award – to heads of state or government (or equivalent) for their leadership and advocacy roles in promoting Islamic banking and finance in their respective jurisdictions or globally. The winners of this prestigious award are known as GIFA Laureates. This year’s Global Islamic Finance Leadership Award was presented to Ismail Omar Guilleh, President of Djibouti, for the great strides his country has made in the field of Islamic banking and finance under his direct patronage. It is due to the keen personal interest taken by President Guilleh that Djibouti is now serving as a gateway for Islamic banking and finance to the East African region. The award was presented to him by President Nursultan Nazarbayev who himself was GIFA Laureate for 2014. Other GIFA Laureates include Tun Abdullah Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia (2011), Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, Malaysia (2012), Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakistan (2013), Muhammandu Sanusi II, Emir of Kano, Nigeria (2015), and Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia (2016).

Other prominent winners this year included the Emirate of Dubai, which was honoured with Global Islamic Finance Leadership Award 2017 in the Country Category. The Republic of Tatarstan was honoured with GIFA Championship Award 2017 for its advocacy of Islamic banking and finance in the Russian Federation. The award was received by Vasil Shaykhraziev, Vice Prime Minister of Tatarstan.

Adnan Yousif, CEO of Albaraka Banking Group, was declared the Islamic Finance Personality of the Year 2017 for his pan-Islamic leadership role in Islamic banking and finance. This is the top award in the general category and previous winners have included the likes of Khaled Al-Aboodi (CEO of ICD) and Raja Teh Maimunah (former CEO of Hong Leong Islamic Bank and now of AmInvestment Bank).

Amr Saad Al Minhali was the proud winner of Islamic Banker of the Year 2017 award. He was chosen by the Awards Committee to receive the coveted award for his exemplary leadership as Head of Islamic Banking at ADCB Islamic. He became the first non-CEO who has been honoured with this award, as all previous winners have been CEOs of Islamic banks. “Only those with exceptional proven record and potential are chosen to receive the Islamic Banker of the Year award,” commented Dr. Sofiza Azmi, CEO of Edbiz Corporation and Chairman of the GIFA Nominations Committee. “The Awards Committee was in particular impressed by the way Amr Al Minhali has developed a team of some of the most prominent Islamic bankers and has improved and sustained profitability of Islamic banking business within ADCB that otherwise is a conventional bank.”

On September 6, Astana attracted more than 150 Islamic finance professionals from other countries who networked with another 150 local players at one of the most colourful awards ceremonies. The event was held at Hotel Hilton Astana, next to the main venues of Expo 2017. The delegates were impressed by the vision of and progress made by Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), the host of the event. AIFC is being developed on the lines of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and the two centres enjoy extremely cordial relationship.

There were 56 awards given in total, and the winners came from diverse backgrounds. GIFA is the only Islamic finance awards programme that honours and celebrates success and contributions of a comprehensive range of individuals and institutions. “We are pleased to be associated with GIFA for the last five years, as my organisation Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia has been awarded with the Best Islamic Microfinance Institution since 2013,” said Dato’ Dr. Zubir Harun, Chairman of Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM). “The Awards Committee is immensely impressed by this institution,” said Professor Humayon Dar, Chairman of GIFA. “People talk about the likes of Grameen Bank and others in microfinance business, but through GIFA we have tried to highlight the success of a public sector programme that has changed lives of millions, and have been particularly successful in achieving its goal of women empowerment.”

The GIFA coverage is not limited to just hardcore financial institutions. The winners include universities, advisory firms, training providers, rating agencies, multilateral organisations, governments, and numerous other institutions beyond the financial sector.

“We feel privileged and honoured to host the 7th Global Islamic Finance Awards in Astana, home to Astana International Financial Centre, and would welcome Islamic financial institutions from around the world to do business through AIFC that is going to be a business friendly and comprehensively regulated jurisdiction to conduct financial business, including Islamic banking and finance,” said Dr. Kairat Kelimbetov, Governor of AIFC in his welcome address.

“I am so much impressed to see the width and depth of representation at GIFA,” said Tauhidur Rahman who won Upcoming Personality in Global Islamic Finance (in Risk Management Role) 2017. “It is amazing to see the winners coming from the USA, South Africa, Djibouti, Russia and right down to Malaysia.”

The prominent winners included: Moody’s GIFA Market Leadership Award (Islamic Financial Intelligence & Ratings) 2017, DDCAP (GIFA Market Leadership Award for Commodity Facilitation and Support 2017), Khazanah Nasional (Islamic Social Responsibility Award 2017), SEDCO Capital (GIFA Market Leadership Award for Islamic Asset Management 2017), Mitsubishi UFG (Best Islamic Wholesale Bank 2017), and Nomura Islamic Asset Management (Best Islamic Fund Manager 2017).

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