Kuching, Sarawak, the City of Unity hosted from Nov 21 to 23 last year the 13th edition of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on the Kuching Isthmus. Held for the first time ever in Sarawak, the global forum attracted participants from different corners of the globe and centred around the theme “Disruptive Change: Impacts and Challenges.”

It was officiated by Malaysian Prime Minister and Patron of the WIEF Foundation, Datuk Patinggi Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak on Nov 21, witnessed by Sarawak Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg and WIEF Foundation Chairman, Tun Musa Hitam. The opening session included also special addresses by Comoros Vice President H.E. Djaffar Ahmed Said Hassani, Morocco’s Head of Government H.E. Dr Saad Eddine El Othmani, President of the Republic of Tatarstan H.E. Rustam Nurgaliyevich Minnikhanov, Islamic Development Bank’s Vice President H.E. Dr Mohamed Nouri Jouini.

The forum could not have happened at a better time, with Sarawak now moving rapidly towards a digital economy. This “disruptive change” is a result of technological advancements affecting the way we communicate with each other, the way we live our lives and the way we keep up with the rest of the world. Social media, smart devices, the Internet, a plethora of gadgets and gizmos… all of these have gone from being not so important to being absolute necessities in our daily lives.

Among the highlights of the three-day forum were the signing and exchange of 16 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between local and international companies, valued at about RM10.37 billion altogether. A huge draw was the Face to Face session with Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple Inc, United States. Moderated by Daniel Sieberg, Author of The Digital Diet and Co-Founder of News Lab, Google, United States, the session provided attendees a look at how Steve and Apple helped to change people’s lives through revolutionary innovations such as the iMac, iPod and the iPhone.

On the local front, a key highlight at the event was a Sarawak Focus session, which discussed on the topic Sarawak State Initiatives on Digital Economy. With Sarawak State Secretary, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani (represented by Deputy State Secretary (Administration), Datu Dr Sabariah Putit) and Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect of Cisco Systems, Inc (USA) Jeffrey Lo as speakers, the session looked at the benefits that Sarawak would gain out of developing the digital economy and what Sarawak could offer to develop various initiatives on the digital economy.

Another highlight was a session on Sarawak as a Premium Tourist Destination, which included Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Sarawak, Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and Chairman, Sabah Parks Board of Trustees, Dato’ Seri Tengku Dr Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahamood as speakers. The session looked at how Sarawak was focusing on culture, adventure and nature as viable tourism products, besides promoting Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition (MICE) possibilities in Sarawak.

With economic forums, panel discussions, masterclasses, exhibitions and the MOCA (Marketplace of Creative Arts) Fest held as part of the prestigious forum, the 13th WIEF was definitely one of the key highlights of Sarawak’s list of international events and conferences last year.

For more information, please contact Sarawak Planning Unit, Chief Minister’s Office, 6th & 7th Floor, Wisma Bapa Malaysia, 93502, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. +6082 492 277 . +6082 449 481 www.jkm.sarawak.gov.my