Professor Datuk Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim enjoys an international reputation as a leader and authority in the Islamic financial services industry (IFSI) at both the professional and academic sectors. He has pioneered the development of Islamic finance for the last several decades. His leadership in the formation of governance, regulatory and Shari’ah standards, as well as in the development of financial instruments to facilitate liquidity management for Islamic financial institutions (IFIs), has been instrumental in strengthening the position of the IFSI within the broader global economy.
Professor Rifaat has served as the inaugural Secretary-General at both the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB). During his terms in office at the AAOIFI and the IFSB, Professor Rifaat played a key role in the conception and development of standards and guidelines for the IFSI.
In October 2012, Professor Rifaat assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM), an international organisation established in October 2010 by central banks, monetary agencies and a multilateral development organisation to facilitate liquidity management for IFIs. Under Professor Rifaat’s leadership, the IILM has successfully issued the first tradable, Shari’ah-compliant, US dollar- denominated highly rated Sukūk with a tenor of under one year. The IILM Sukūk, which are rated A-1 by Standard & Poor’s Rating Services, represent a new class of assets in the IFSI. These Sukūk are intended to assist IFI in mitigating the disadvantages they have been facing, compared to their conventional counterparts. As of August 2016, a total of $20.03 billion Sukūk have been issued and reissued at maturity.
Professor Rifaat's contribution to the IFSI has been recognized by the many prestigious international awards that he has received during his career over three decades. These awards notably include the (inaugural) 2004 Euromoney Outstanding Contribution in the Development of Islamic Finance and the 2010 Islamic Development Bank Prize in Islamic Banking and Finance. In 2010, the King of Malaysia awarded Professor Rifaat the Royal Malaysian Honorary Award of Darjah Kebesaran Panglima Jasa Negara (P.J.N.), which carries the title ''Datuk''.