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July 2009 Issue 34 Vol 4

Ambassador Nazer commends 4th Anniversary of Pledge of Allegiance

Senator Nick Sherry Assistant Treasurer: Islamic Banking Symposium Page 7-8

Saudi Ambassador H.E Hassan Nazer

Saudi Arabia celebrated the 4th anniversary of King Abdullah’s ascension to the throne June 19, according to the lunar Islamic calendar. In a statement, the Ambassador Hassan Nazer conveyed his congratulations and best wishes to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and to the Saudi People on the 4th anniversary of the allegiance-pledge to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Ambassador Nazer commended the major reform efforts led by King Abdullah in the political, economic, educational and social fields. the King for his keenness on the principle of dialogue as one of the major pillars of the Kingdom’s foreign policy H.E said.


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s he celebrates the fourth anniversary of his accession to the throne, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah can join with his people in looking back on some truly groundbreaking achievements and look forward to further advances to bring Saudi Arabia to Developed Country status. Only months after he became king, for the first time women were allowed to both vote and stand in local elections, with the result that two women were elected to the board of directors of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He never misses an opportunity to emphasize that the promotion of women in society was a priority, most particularly so that their skills could be used in the workplace. is February Abdullah appointed by royal decree the first Saudi woman to a Cabinet post. Nora Al-Fayez became the deputy education minister for girls’ affairs. e king has been no less active in international affairs, capitalizing on the Kingdom’s membership of the World Trade Organization that came six months after his accession with a series of key international visits which included India and China. But undoubtedly his most significant international

achievement todate has been the Arab Peace Initiative that he formulated when he was still crown prince. Now fully endorsed by the Arab League, it is clear the initiative will play a crucial part in the renewed search for a just settlement of the Middle East conflict. President Obama has recognized this and it is no coincidence that it was to Saudi Arabia and King Abdullah that he first called before going on to make his landmark Cairo speech this month. A second equally important initiative has been the king’s launch of the interfaith dialogue, designed in particular to break down the stereotypes of the Muslim world in the eyes of Christians and no less significantly the stereotypes of Christians in the Muslim world. It cannot have been a coinci-


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King Abdullah with President Obama last month in Saudi Arabia

dence that these sentiments were also echoed by Obama in Cairo. And the king has been prepared to clothe his words in deeds. His visit to the pope in the Vatican was highly symbolic and caused some Western commentators to reflect that such a meeting would have been unthinkable in the past. Nor should be forgotten the extraordinary economic and infrastructural development that Abdullah has begun. e four mega economic cities in Rabigh, Hail, Madinah and Jazan, are expected to draw SR300 billion in new investment projects and create more than a million new jobs. To back up the demand for skilled and highly qualified graduates we are seeing a major education boost, the most eye-catching part of which

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Jeddah is the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology, designed to attract the brightest young minds from around the globe as well as the Kingdom and give them world-class teachers and state-of-the art research centers. e size of this remarkable industrial transformation with its massive associated infrastructure, including railways, is in the view of some international economists likely to be a key driver of world economic recovery.


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he University of Canberra kindly hosted the Saudi Seminar Day, with multiple information sessions for the Saudi students. Australia provides exciting challenges for Saudi students, yet some of those challenges can be daunting if the student is unaware of how to go about their daily lives in Australia. It was for this reason that the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, the Saudi Students Club, and the University of Canberra coorganised a comprehensive Seminar day: Inviting guest speakers from the Australian Federal Police, UC health and counseling services, accommodation services, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Australian National University and ANU College (for the benefit of the Saudi students at ANU). e event was a big success, with many of the Saudi students finding the seminar very useful. e speakers also found the concept very beneficial. Ann Bell, ANU’s International

Ambassador Hassan Nazer with Dr Ali Bishri Cultural Attache’ and Saudi Student Chairman Students Services Manager, stated: “It is a very good idea, it reinforces to all the students that we are here to support them, to achieve their academic potential, and to enjoy themselves while they are in Australia”. UC’s Senior International Marketing Manager Bev Riley pointed out the benefits for all the parties involved: “e benefit is for everybody – the universities, the [Saudi Arabian] Cultural Mission and the students involved. As it allows for the communication channels to be opened and to identify the needs of the students, and to Continued Next Page


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(Continued from page 4) be able to address them in an ongoing way. It also allows the students who might feel marginalised to have some input”. One such satisfied Saudi scholarship student, Fouad Al-Ghamdi, noted that “Saudi students face a lot of problems, but now they have been taught about their rights, and today made it clear for them”. AFP’s Constable Vaughan Cubitt cited the future course of such seminars: “It’s got big potential, it’s good to let international students know about the life, culture, and the services in Australia. We get to know about them, and e Australian government has announced it has they get to know about us. When they go back reduced the processing time for Australian visas home, they can spread a good word about Auswith an aim to ensure that a Saudi applicant gets tralia.” No doubt, with the shedding of misunhis or her visit visa within two days. Previously, an derstandings, such seminars can only help Australian visa application submitted by a Saudi strengthen Australian-Saudi academic and culnational or a resident could take weeks to process. tural ties. “is is a good development that the Australian visa turn-around time has been reduced,” said Roy Australia. Clogstoun, deputy chief of mission at the ere are increasing people-to-people contacts Australian Embassy. between Australia and Saudi Arabia. ere are “e announcement to reduce the processing time more than 4,000 Australians living and working is a welcome move,” said Arif Rahman, who works in Saudi Arabia, while more than 7,000 Saudis for a travel and tourism organization. is will also are studying at Australian educational instituboost business traffic and passenger loads on tions. Moreover, Saudis are increasingly choosflights to Australian destinations, he added. ing to visit Australia as tourists. e ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “We are thrilled that the Australian governto Australia and New Zealand Hassan Nazer has ment has implemented steps to shorten visaalso welcomed the new facilities announced, prais- processing times,” said Andrew Oldfield, a ing their contribution to further enhancing the spokesman of Tourism Australia in a statement bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and released here.


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a Trobe University, NAB (National Australia Bank) and MCCA (Muslim Community Cooperative Australia) have all collaborated to present the Australian Symposium on Islamic Banking and Finance in response to the current global financial crisis together with growing demand for shariah compliant products and services. e symposium aimed at providing an active response from industry as well as academia. In this joint effort across industry-academia issues related to Islamic Banking and Finance including performance of Islamic banks and financial institutions in the current financial crisis were all discussed. e symposium also explored opportunities and challenges in the area of Islamic Banking and Finance, particularly in Australia. e event was attended by several delegates including those involved in finance, insurance, legal, accounting and differing fields of academia, also attended by a large a number of PhD students.e event also included speeches from Senator the Hon Nick Sherry, Assistant Treasurer, Mohammed Amin, Tax Partner, Head of Islamic Finance UK, and Saadat Muzaffar, Managing Director of the Wealth Management and Non-Resident Division,Dubai Islamic Bank. In a statement to the symposium Hon Nick Sherry expressed his interest in Islamic Banking, stating that "the conventional financial system

Assistant Treasurer Hon Nick Sherry

would do well to learn what it can from Islamic finance’s avoidance of exposure to the US sub-prime market and associated complex financial instruments, and our minds should be open to the potential for Islamic finance to operate in Australia alongside what we have come to regard as more conventional financial products." "e Australian Government is committed to an open and competitive financial system and a socially inclusive environment for all Australians. e development of an Islamic finance industry in this country has the potential to make a very positive


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Burke signs deal with Saudi for Live Cattle Export Australian Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said he has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia on live cattle export. Burke has stopped off in Alice Springs direct from Middle East trade talks.He has given an address at the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association conference, where he said a big part of his international trip was expanding the live-cattle export industry. Burke said he told Middle Eastern representatives about the strength of the Australian agriculture industry, and is securing memorandums of understanding with governments there. He said he is proud of the industry and believes animal welfare standards are very high. He said he is committed to its continued improvement of the country’s cattle industry.

contribution to achieving both of these principles." He also made reference to Aus“While the conventional tralia's key role to be played in the expansion of Islamic Banking, financial system is with Australia's "geographical pobuckling under a sition presenting us with an immountain of debt and financial wizardry gone portant window into the Islamic awry, Islamic finance has finance sector. Our closest neighbour, Indonesia, is the most popuappeared relatively robust.” lous Muslim majority nation over The Financial Times 207 million Muslims, with a further 40 million in the broader south East Asia region." “ere are also opportunities to be considered at the retail level. With over 340,000 Muslims in Australia, as well as presenting a new commercial opportunity, the offering of retail Islamic finance products contributes to fostering social inclusion, by enabling Australian Muslims to access products that may be more consistent with their principles and beliefs as well as widening the choice of products for non-Muslims.” e symposium also provided an opportunity for industry professionals, policy makers and academics to explore possible avenues

of cooperation. e symposium featured a group of local and internationally renowned specialists who presented papers on a variety of topics which will later be considered for publication in the Economic Papers, Humanomics and the International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management. e event also launched the first ever Master in Islamic Banking and Finance degree in the Australasian region through the School of Economics and Finance and Faculty of Law and Management at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. In other news the first onshore Shariah-compliant real estate fund in the Australian market, e LM Australian Alif Fund, was officially launched in Bahrain. e fund is managed by LM Investment Management Ltd., a specialist Australian income funds manager operating internationally and which is aimed at Islamic investors who are looking for opportunities in alternative investments and in new markets.


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handful of scholarships to help such students. I have always believed that every student who comes to university brings with them special knowledge and skills. In most cases, students do not realise this, believing that all knowledge resides in ‘experts’ like their professors. is, of course, is a myth. While most academics have knowledge of the field of study in which they teach, most are expert in very narrowly defined, specialist areas. is is the way that Western scholarship works: a PhD is necessarily a very focussed piece of Michael Meadows, Associate Professor of Journalism, School of Humanities, Griffith research exploring a particular research problem. University My approach to teaching places a high value on encouraging international students to share their cultural perspectives ne of the most difficult things anyone can do is to learn a new with me and our classmates. Many times in my classes we have language, especially if that lan- been able to gain rare insights into the ways in which particular cultures shape our understanding of the world and our place in guage is culturally distant from your own. But imagine trying to pursue high- it. e values of international perspectives are important. Most academics, I suspect, are much more interested in ideas level academic studies in another lanthan in English grammar, although correct English expression guage and we can begin to understand is an assumed skill that all international students must aspire tothe dilemma facing international students who come to Griffith University to wards. ere are various support systems at Griffith to help with this transition—writing tutors, English language discusstudy. For more than two decades now, I’ve been teaching journalism and media sion groups and specialised language courses that can in many studies to students at three Queensland cases, become part of a degree program. But in the end, it is up universities. In that time I have had the to you to make the most of your experiences in this strange new country. privilege of working with many hunSharing your cultural insights with staff and your fellow studreds of international students from many different countries. Of course, the dents both inside and outside classes will help to break down the artificial barriers that cultural differences can create. Friendpoorest developing nations do not have the resources to send their students over- ship, like music, can shatter cultural boundaries. Knowledge is seas for their education but that is grad- power and if used wisely, will always be the enemy of ignorance ually changing with the availability of a and prejudice.

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