A new one-year qualification that
combines the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
certificates in business accounting and Islamic finance has been
launched in Bahrain.

The CIMA Post-Graduate Qualification in
Business Accounting and Islamic Finance will be delivered by Ernst
& Young. It is being funded by Tamkeen, a semi-autonomous
authority charged with enhancing the overall prosperity of Bahrain
by investing in Bahraini employability, job creation and social
support.

Room for growth

The programme will initially involve 130
Bahraini nationals who have graduated within the past five years
from any field of study. But CIMA president Aubrey Joachim said
there is potential for more than 1,300 students.

The programme aims to provide the skills and
knowledge required to help fulfil a skills gap identified in a
survey conducted by Tamkeen, which found a need for an additional
1,340 banking and investment specialists in Bahrain.

Joachim said potential candidates for the
programme must pass some stringent criteria in areas such as
mathematics and English.

The graduates could, in principle, be working
in any field, but Joachim said they will ideally be working in some
form of financial services.

“But you could have people in IT, or any other
commercial areas as well because the principles of Islamic finance
are not necessarily to do with financial services, the financial
world and financial instruments,” he said.

Ambitious plans

The programme has been designed to align with
Bahrain’s 2030 Economic Vision, which aims to make the kingdom a
stronger international financial hub.

Joachim said Bahrain has been a financial hub
in the Middle East for many years.

“Of course you have all these other financial
centres coming up in Dubai and Qatar and Saudi, but Bahrain was
essentially the premier centre for finance,” Joachim said.

Bahrain’s 2030 Economic Vision charts the
kingdom’s plans to re-emerge not just as the financial hub in the
Middle Eastern demographic, but be on equal footing with global
financial centres, Joachim added.

“They are looking to up-skill their finance
professionals to a level where they will be equal with any other
finance professionals,” he said.

The new CIMA qualification has been developed
specifically for Bahrain, but Joachim said CIMA is looking for
opportunities to offer it in other locations.

“This has potential across large sectors of
the Middle East, plus also a lot of the Islamic world,” he
said.