Malaysia honours Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel

Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel won the Royal Award for Islamic Finance at a gala dinner last night in Kuala Lumpur.
Mohyedin Saleh Kamel accepts the Royal Award on behalf of his father, Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel
Mohyedin Saleh Kamel accepts the Royal Award on behalf of his father, Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel

The Royal Award for Islamic Finance was awarded to Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel last night at a gala dinner at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. The award recognised his "visionary drive, extraordinary leadership and personal commitment in spurring the global accessibility of Islamic finance".

Spearheaded by the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC), along with a special taskforce headed by Securities Commission Malaysia's chairman, Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar, the award is unique in that it focuses on the individual's outstanding contribution and its impact on the advancement of Islamic finance globally, as well as commercial achievements.

Held every two years, the award aims to help deepen the body of knowledge and cross-border application of Islamic finance. The award comes with a $250,000 cash prize.

The winner, Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, is credited with having pioneered the adoption of Shar'iah-compliant principles in banking and business. In the absence of Islamic finance in the 1960s, he relied upon his own adherence to Islamic principles to devise Islamic contracts for use in his business operations at the time. In 1969 he founded a group of companies, which among other things, provides Shar'iah-compliant retail, corporate and investment banking and treasury services and is today a global organisation comprising subsidiaries in 12 countries and more than 300 branches. Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel followed this by establishing the Islamic Arab Insurance Company in 1979, a pioneering takaful (Islamic insurance) company.

In his efforts to inspire and develop future talent and innovation, Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel established the Islamic Economics Research Centre at King Abdulaziz University and the Jeddah Center for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. He also founded the Saleh Kamel Centre for Islamic Economy at Al-Azhar University in Cairo and the Saleh Kamel Center for Banking Studies and Research at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

"With his extensive contribution to the industry, we believe he will serve as a strong role model to inspire others to follow suit," said Tun Musa Hitam, chief juror for The Royal Award for Islamic Finance.

Mohyedin Saleh Kamel, the son of Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, received the award on behalf of his father, noting that his father had wanted to attend but "after a liver operation, a bypass surgery, hip replacement surgery, thrombosis and acute diabetes his doctors all advised against travelling long distance."

The award was presented by his majesty Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku Sultan of Kedah Darul Aman, the deputy king of Malaysia. Upon acceptance Moyhedin Saleh Kamel said: "It is indeed satisfying to know that his simple idea of creating an intellectual platform for Shar'iah scholars from around the world to get together and debate could have also inspired the idea for such an award."

He said the prize money will be donated to the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions, which is based in Bahrain.

There was also a posthumous recognition of Ahmad El-Naggar, who the organisation dubbed the father of modern Islamic banking. Naggar's first experiment with Islamic banking took the form of a savings bank based on profit-sharing.

The gala dinner was held in conjunction with the Global Islamic Finance Forum that is taking place this week in Malaysia. At the dinner, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, underscored that "Malaysia will continue its efforts in strengthening our international linkages in the global Islamic financial system through collaborative partnerships and cooperation with the objective of contributing towards greater international financial and economic integration."

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