International visit: AAT in the Middle East

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The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, recently visited Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). AAT’s Assistant Director of Global Development, Claire Angus, accompanied her. She picks out some of the highlights of the trip

The visit to Bahrain and the UAE was a great opportunity to learn more about both the education and the finance industries in the region. We were also able to meet key influences in both countries and exchange best practices between the UK and the Middle East.

In Bahrain the Lord Mayor, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, was joined by a delegation that included representatives from Linklaters, Thomas Reuters, Cass Business School and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. They called on leaders and decision-makers to contribute in the development of the financial and professional services sector in the country.

Bahrain: the global hub for Islamic finance

Bahrain is a global hub for Islamic finance and the Central Bank of Bahrain has been supporting this sector for more than 20 years. In 2001, Bahrain became the first country in the world to develop and implement regulations specific to the Islamic banking industry. We also visited the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF), who are AAT’s largest approved training provider in Bahrain.

In Dubai the delegation had the opportunity to visit the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The DIFC occupies approximately 110 acres and has its own legal system and courts distinct from those of the wider UAE, with jurisdiction over corporate, commercial, civil, employment, trusts and securities law matters.

It is an onshore financial centre, which provides a secure and efficient platform for business and financial institutions to reach into and out of the emerging markets of the region. At the heart of the DIFC model is an independent risk-based regulator, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), which grants licenses and regulates the activities of all banking and financial institutions in this financial hub. The regulatory body was created using principle-based primary legislation modelled closely on that used in London and New York.

Islamic finance and banking in Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi the schedule included meetings with two of the main Islamic Banks – Al Hilal Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. These meeting provided some excellent insight into the practical application of the principles of Islamic finance and banking to everyday life, including the strong ethical foundation that underpins all aspects of Islamic finance. The global market for Islamic finance at the end of last year was estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion.

This trip was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the education sector in the Gulf region and to understand how the finance industry works in these countries. AAT training has been available in Bahrain for a number of years now with five approved training centres.

The insight gained on this trip will help us on our mission to continue expanding in the region.

You can find out more about AAT’s work in other countries on the AAT website.

Claire Angus is AAT's former Assistant Director of Global Development.

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