The Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES), which closed on Wednesday, discussed the role of innovation and integration in Islamic economy.

The GIES in its fourth year was opened on Tuesday by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, in the presence of Rustom Minnikhanov, president of the Republic of Tatarstan. Around 3,000 delegates attended the meeting.

The experts discussed how emerging technologies like the internet of Things, wearables, drones, Artificial Intelligence and blockchain are aligned with Islamic values.

“Instead of focusing on new technologies, we should focus on problems to solve. We should think of solutions for the problems that affect people and use technology to develop them. Creating the technology is the easy part, but getting people to adopt it is the challenge. Depending on the context, focusing on the Muslim niche can be a good or a bad idea. It can sometimes lead to missed opportunities, failing to see that the good idea can benefit the wider community, not just Muslims,” Mohammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, principal data scientist at KenSci Inc said.

Katherine Budd, co-founder, NOW Money used the discussion to highlight what she said was a gap in social investment in Islamic products because of a perception that they were niche — a perception she said was wrong.

“There’s no point thinking as something as niche when it represents 25 per cent of the global population. You would never develop a product for children or the elderly and have investors say it’s niche. Halal products can grow well beyond their original intended market. Facebook is a great example. It started out as a means for university students to communicate and look at where it is now. Halal socially-conscious products and services have the same potential,” she said.