Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak today opened the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum that will run from 2-4 August 2016. There were also five global leaders attending the opening ceremony, including: President of Republic Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Guinea Alpha Condé, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Shriyan Wickremenshinghe, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade of the Kingdom of Jordan Dr Jawad Al Anani and President of the Development Bank Islam (IDB) Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali. The 12th WIEF focuses on strengthening decentralization of growth through the empowerment of micro, small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) to ensure the improvement of standards and connectivity in the business world as well as better access to regional and global investors. SMEs should be digitised through adaptation and utilisation of ICT to facilitate their economic expansion and interaction with global economic players. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the Indonesian economy. About 99 per cent of Indonesia’s businesses are SMEs with more than 98 per cent dominated by micro companies. These businesses employ over 107.66 million Indonesian and contribute 60.6 per cent to Indonesia GDP. This numbers are increasing with the emergence of creative industry throughout the country. Decentralisation of growth will therefore empower MSMEs by facilitating their larger participation in the mainstream economy which will ensure inclusive economic development, spur innovation and improve efficiency, giving enterprises the competitive edge to navigate through the ever-evolving business landscape. In order to facilitate the growth and development of SMEs in Indonesia, the government recently issued several economic policy packages to stimulate inclusive economic growth. Some of them have direct impact on the interests of SMEs, such as simplification of permits for the establishment of small and medium enterprises and export licenses, increase in SMEs financing, and special interest rate on export credit.. Under the current policy of liberalization, 19 sub-sectors have been reserved for small-scale enterprises and cooperatives. The Honourable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia and Patron of the WIEF Foundation in his keynote address said, “The 12th WIEF theme “Decentralising Growth, Empowering Future Business” is certainly apt, in the face of the challenges in world economy and political security as well as new developments brought on by events like the Brexit referendum and the consequences for Europe in the global economy.” . He pointed out that though Europe is still struggling to recover, the ASEAN economy is still robust with a 4.5 per cent GDP growth while the Islamic economy almost doubled the 2014/2015 global rate, and that Muslim consumer spending is set to reach US$2,6 trillion in the year 2020. He added that Indonesia, a strong market in ASEAN, is a key growth engine for both ASEAN and the Islamic economy. “The Islamic economy not only has the potential to drive national economic growth but also will help to restore the confidence of millions of people across the world who have been disillusioned and are seeking a better way of doing business. To do this, there is a need to create a more equal and sustainable world by rebalancing the economy with inclusive growth that must deliver broad-based improvements. Business approaches and economic growth models must be reformed. There must be more openness, more integration and better accountability by the public sector, the private sector and international institutions.” Key issues that will be discussed at the 12th WIEF include sukuk for infrastructure financing, integration of Halal sectors and Islamic Finance, expansion of the global Halal food industry, development of the global modest fashion industry, improving funding access for MSMEs, integrating MSMEs into the digitised trade, building more equity crowdfunding platforms, spurring innovation by linking startups to corporations, and inculcating the culture of design-thinking for business. In addition, the forum will also host sessions on creative industries, Islamic travel and Halal food markets that will also gain benefit from the fast-growing Islamic economy which is not limited to the Muslim world, but can be better grasped in partnership with the wider international community. 12th WIEF is organised by the WIEF Foundation and hosted by the Ministry of Finance, in collaboration with the State Secretariat and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia. This year’s Forum will continue to build bridges through business by providing various networking platforms to delegates who wish to engage with potential business collaborators and investors, and to countries that intend to showcase trade opportunities and expand their business outreach. These platforms include Complementary Programmes, Exhibition, IdeaPad, Business Exchange, 12th WIEF Linked Up and Business Networking Breakfast (BNB). Approximately, over 2,500 delegates from 69 countries and 152 prominent guests will participate in this year’s Forum, including 7 world leaders, six ministers, about 51 forum speakers, 55 speakers at complementary programs, 15 Presenters at Ideapad and 16 prominent business leaders that will facilitate business exchange event at the forum. Array of well-known speakers come from various countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, UK, Italy, Kenya, Ethiopia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, South Africa, Spain, and Australia. Forum delegates can also look forward to the Marketplace of Creative Arts (MOCAfest) from 3-4 August 2016 to experience the dynamic relationships between business and the arts. This year’s MOCAfest focuses on the creative artistic expressions from Indonesia’s vibrant and diverse cultural communities, highlighting the concept of ‘Unity in Diversity’ as encapsulated in Indonesia’s official motto of “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” to promote peace and prosperity across the globe.