Despite its rapid growth, the Islamic finance industry is weak in the area of financial inclusion, an area that has gained importance as a policy objective both in traditional and Islamic finance, Prof Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim, CEO of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation in Malaysia, said.

Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, pointed out that Islamic finance, halal food and tourism are attractive investment sectors in the UAE.

"Islamic economy and investment in the African market are the chamber's top priorities and a new study will underscore these objectives," he said at the launch of the "Investing in Africa's Islamic Economy: Southern and East Africa Report," which revealed that the African region needs around $98 billion a year to fund its infrastructure needs.

"Our global expansion strategy is to enhance the competitiveness of our members in emerging markets of the world while highlighting Dubai as the middle ground from where Asian companies can make entry into Africa, and to call upon African companies to set up base in Dubai and to benefit from the lucrative investment opportunities presented by the emirate's vibrant economic sectors including trade, tourism logistics, and financial services. To this effect, we have set up two representative offices in Ethiopia and Ghana and are soon to open another two in Mozambique and Kenya," said Buamim.

Speakers at the summit on Tuesday also addressed topics such as the inclusion of Islamic economy in corporate strategy agendas. A subsequent session tackled the expansion of the halal industry.

Abdulla Al Maeeni, director-general of the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, said there is a need for standardisation across the halal sector, as it plays a vital role in the industry, addressing high customer demand, and promoting the compatibility, safety and reliability of products.