“When women succeed, we all succeed” – this popular proverb has been one of the appeals of the 11th World Islamic Economy Forum held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia from 3 to 5 November 2015. Indeed, the role of women in every aspect of international development –be it cultural, economic, social or political— is highly important but used to be highly overlooked. Now the world is different and becomes increasingly friendly to women; but that does not mean our works are close to the finish line. Especially in the Muslim communities, women and the young population need our serious attention more than ever.
In this three-day event attended by over 3,000 delegates comprising global leaders, ministers, speakers, exhibitors and artistes from 98 countries across five continents, we were constantly reminded that the global Muslim population is the second-largest in the world and 60 per cent of it is under 30. With this being said, “Muslims have the largest youth population that’s growing at an alarming rate”, as noted by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his speech at the welcoming reception on the very first day of the forum themed as “Building Resilience for Equitable Growth”.
In this specific demographic, the cultural and creative industries are thriving more than ever and it is even more extensive globally by the emergence of the new media, where the spacetime boundaries are overcome by the pervasive presence of the Internet. “Opportunities”, as opposed to limitation, is then the key word for today’s global phenomenon, as the Internet-driven socio-cultural drift allows greater freedom of expressions in the fields of arts and culture.
Interestingly, women and the young population are ones most benefited from this change and the Islamic fashion world becomes the place where Muslim women could be the frontrunners in the incredibly crowded marketplace of over-7-billion-dollar industry worldwide. This significant number is not to be taken for granted and key players all over the world should start a serious conversation on how and where the modest fashion industry should be taken to and what can be contributed to the larger society in order to create more wealth and ensure sustainable and equitable development. This is the groundwork of the inclusion of a panel discussion on Islamic fashion industry in the second day of 11th WIEF, right after the women empowerment session moderated by Dato’ Dr. Norraesah Mohamad.
In the session “Islamic Fashion Industry: New Trends, New Markets” , I, with Melani El-Turk (HauteHijab, CEO), Zulfiye Tufa (thehijabstylist, blogger and designer) served as the panelists for an intriguing discussion moderated by Alia Khan (Islamic Fashion and Design Council, Founder).
To be continued.