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Zahra Al-Sairafi, MSc

Senior Consultant at the Islamic Financial services Centre, Ernst & Young

Zahra Al-Sairafi, senior consultant at the Islamic financial services centre, Ernst & Young, completed the CIMA Diploma in Islamic finance in November 2010. He describes below how the certificate has enhanced his understanding of the principles that underpin Islamic finance and how this knowledge has helped his career.

What does your role involve?
I work as a senior consultant in Ernst & Young’s Islamic financial services centre and have been with the firm for more than three years. I worked on a number of leading business initiatives and assisted in advising major Islamic institutions in the region. I also work as a part time lecturer in Ernst & Young’s training centre and teach two of the Cert IF modules: Islamic banking and takaful products and Islamic capital market instruments.

Why did you decide to enrol in the CIMA Diploma in Islamic finance?
I decided to enrol when I received an offer to teach the diploma. I wanted to take the tests so I would know what my students should expect in the exam.

Why did you choose CIMA for your Islamic finance course?
I choose CIMA because it is a global, highly reputable education provider.

What attracted you to working in the Islamic finance sector? 
Islamic finance is a relatively new industry and professionals are needed in this sector. In addition, my home country Bahrain is considered the Islamic finance hub in the Middle East and as a Bahraini, it is important to me that my country maintains this position.

'Employers in Bahrain value candidates with a diploma from CIMA'

With increased competition, it is essential to have nationals who have adequate knowledge in Islamic finance to help promote and develop the sector in the country.

How does the diploma assist you in your career?
CIMA is a globally reputed education provider and potential employers in Bahrain value candidates with a diploma from CIMA.

Why is it important to your employers that you have this qualification?
As I work in the Islamic financial services group (IFSG), it was very important to my employer that I had a recognised qualification in Islamic finance. Ernest & Young encouraged me to study Islamic finance further.

What most impressed you about the certificate?
Three particular points impressed me: the books are comprehensive, the language is easy to understand, and the flow of information in the chapters is good. Overall, I found the course very convenient to study.

'I found the course very convenient to study'

How do you use the knowledge on a day to day basis in your job?
I need deep Islamic finance knowledge in most of the assignments or engagements that I work on.

Product programmes record everything about a product including its definition, structure, benefits, risks involved, accounting treatment, and pricing. I document product programmes for Islamic banks so I need to have a deep understanding of Islamic finance contracts.

I am also part of the IFSG team that developed Ernst & Young’s Islamic banking training solutions. I lectured in a series of sessions aimed at educating the IFSG team about Islamic finance concepts and contracts.

Furthermore, I document various policies and procedures manuals for reputable banks in Bahrain and the region, and having knowledge about the operations of Islamic banks is essential to do so.