Mayor Boris Johnson
The Honourable Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman of the WIEF Foundation
Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, Minister of State for Trade and Investment
The Honourable Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs Malaysia
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure to be here, in one of the world’s great cities.
Rome may be eternal; Paris the city of light. But London shines brighter than both. It is at once breathtakingly ancient, and irresistibly modern; the birthplace of global finance, home to the mother of parliaments, and – I only mention this because I understand it has been a traditionally British summer – the world’s best umbrella shop.
It is also home to thousands of Malaysians, who come here in search of knowledge and opportunity; drawn to the peculiar mix of history, culture and creativity that gives this city life. London has nurtured the minds of countless Malaysians, young and old; bringing richness and depth not just to their lives, but also to your society.
That is why I am so pleased that London is hosting the 9thWorld Islamic Economic Forum in October. It is a chance for Malaysia, by way of return, to bring a new perspective to London.
For the past eight years, the Forum has met in Asia. But this year it will meet in the West. London will hold the first World Islamic Economic Forum in a non-Muslim country.
It is a recognition not only of London as a place of ideas and discourse; but also as a bastion of tolerance and inclusivity amidst an often divided world.
This reputation stretches back centuries. Throughout its history, London’s commercial ambition has shaped its worldview. This city’s traditions of intellectual vigour and financial innovation have conspired to attract the world’s best and brightest – and to ensure London looks forever outwards, seeking new talent, new opportunities, and new markets.
Today, one such frontier is not geographical, but spiritual. The rise of the Islamic economy is one of the more important stories of the past few decades.
In less than fifty years, Islamic banking has gone from an obscurity to a trillion-dollar concern, with a full range of Islamic financial products and services. Halal, which most people associate with food, covers everything from pharmaceuticals and logistics to cosmetics and tourism; a 2.3 trillion dollar market providing for more than 1.6 billion Muslims.
The opportunities for London, an open city with unparalleled financial expertise and a diverse population, are clear. That is one of the reasons why, in just a few months, the World Islamic Economic Forum will bring business and Government leaders from both the Muslim and non-Muslim world here to talk.
We will talk other about the role of women in business; about how to help our cities meet the challenge of growth. About the potential for collaboration on technology and education, about the role Governments have in promoting economic growth. And about the importance of moderation and tolerance within Islam, as well as in the wider world.
I hope to see many of you there. But for now, let me pay tribute to Tun Musa Hitam and his team for their work over the previous eight years, and for their inspirational proposal to bring the Forum to London. I would also like to thank Mayor Boris and the Government of the United Kingdom for their work with the forum’s secretariat, and for their warm welcome today.
I look forward to returning in October for the Forum itself. By working together on projects that benefit both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, I believe we can find the best in each other; and find common ground between our cultures.
I can think of no better place to do so than London, the City that straddles the world’s time zones. The City that hosted such an inclusive and celebratory Olympics. The City that, for those of us who know it, symbolizes the best of the West.
Thank you very much.