Greater Collaboration Between Key Markets Essential to
Build Scale and Sustain Global Growth for Islamic Finance
H.E. Rasheed M. Al Maraj inaugurates
the World's Largest Annual Gathering of Islamic Finance
Leaders with record 1300 international delegates
Bahrain: 22nd November 2011: Convened under the patronage of HRH Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and held under the official support of the Central Bank of Bahrain, the 18th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2011) witnessed a high profile opening at the Gulf International Conventional Centre. Confirming its position as the world's largest and most influential annual gathering of Islamic finance leaders, WIBC 2011 gathered more than 1300 industry leaders from over 50 countries for discussions that focused on enabling the international Islamic finance industry to "Compete for Global Growth". The three day event was kick started yesterday with a series of stimulating pre-conference workshops and executive briefing sessions.
Today's inaugural keynote plenary session saw H.E. Rasheed M. Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain and H.E. Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, Chief Executive Officer & General Manager, The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB), Saudi Arabia providing perspectives on managing the challenges of industry globalization. The session provided critical insights into developing supervisory frameworks to support the increase in cross-border Islamic finance activities and reinforcing co-operation across jurisdictions to ensure stronger international regulatory architecture for the Islamic banking and finance industry.
The inaugural plenary session was immediately followed by a high-powered CEO and industry leaders' debate. Moderated by Ashar Nazim, Senior Director, MENA Leader for Islamic Finance, Ernst & Young, the power debate session examined how leading players are positioning themselves to capitalize on the new growth opportunities presented by the increasing internationalization of Islamic banking and finance. This dynamic keynote debate session featured Tirad Mahmoud, Chief Executive Officer, ADIB; Toby O'Connor, Chief Executive Officer, The Islamic Bank of Asia; Syed Abdull Aziz Jailani Bin Syed Kechik, Chief Executive Officer, OCBC Al-Amin Bank Berhad; Asad A Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, Gulf African Bank; Abdulrazzak Mohammed Elkhraijy, Executive Vice President and Head of the Islamic Banking Development Group, The National Commercial Bank - Saudi Arabia; and Dr. Salah Addeen A Qadar Saeed, General Manager – Credit & Risk Management, Bahrain Islamic Bank.
WIBC 2011 featured an exclusive UK Roundtable session which was inaugurated by HMA Iain Lindsay OBE, British Ambassador to Bahrain. The session moderated by Nicholas Edmondes, Partner, Trowers & Hamlins, Chairman, TheCityUK GCC Advisory Group and featuring Cassim Docrat, Director, DDCAP (DIFC) Limited; Farmida Bi, Partner and Head of Islamic Finance, Europe, Norton Rose Group; Dan Taylor, Partner, BDO LLP UK; Darshan Bijur, Director - Islamic Finance and Investments, KPMG; and Mohammad Farrukh Raza, Founder and Managing Director, Islamic Finance Advisory & Assurance Services (IFAAS) analyzed the latest developments in Islamic finance in the United Kingdom and assessed the opportunities for building international partnerships.
WIBC 2011 also featured a France Roundtable which was inaugurated by H.E. Yves Oudin, Ambassador of France in Bahrain. Commenting on his participation at the event, H.E. Yves Oudin noted that "Islamic finance benefits from strong support in France. In building an appropriate and friendly environment, French authorities have contributed to make France an open country to Islamic finance. France has made a series of legal and tax adjustments into its financial system to integrate transactions and concepts that comply with Islamic ethical principles, ensuring their tax neutrality with respect to conventional finance. The regulatory body (French Financial Market Authority - AMF) has defined a working framework for managing Shariah-compliant funds, some of which are already being distributed in France. Islamic investors can benefit from a leading easy-to-access finance industry through the Paris Stock Exchange. Paris Europlace, the Paris financial markets organization, has signed an agreement with the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), which enacts legal, financial and accounting standards for Islamic finance in France. France promises a successful future for Islamic finance."
He also said that "in a market conducive to development and with the ambition to build long-term relationships between France and the Middle-East, Invest in France Agency is convinced of the importance of taking part in the World Islamic Banking Conference 2011."
Presented by Imtiaz Ibrahim, Senior Director, Assurance, Ernst & Young and Abid Shakeel, Executive Manager, Ernst & Young, the eagerly awaited World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2011/12 was launched at a specially convened session at the conference. Developed in collaboration with Ernst & Young, the Report titled "A Brave New World of Sustainable Growth", noted that "business models needed to shape and sustain success in this new landscape are evolving in a fundamental way. Ensuring sustainable growth will require brave, meaningful and decisive Performance Improvement initiatives."
Speaking to the media present at the event, David McLean, Managing Director of the World Islamic Banking Conference noted that "the rapid international expansion of Islamic finance essentially reflects its ability to remain competitive and meet the complex requirements of the global financial community. Islamic finance is presented with a huge opportunity to become even more diversified and more comprehensive to meet the complex requirements of the global economy."
He also said that "with various countries now intensifying efforts to develop their respective Islamic financial markets, it is essential to build deeper relationships between the key markets for Islamic finance and also between the various players in each of these jurisdictions, so that leading Islamic financial institutions are better placed to compete at a global level. Greater collaboration among these jurisdictions will also facilitate cross-border initiatives to strengthen the industry architecture and framework which will in turn support the expansion in international product and service offerings."
The World Islamic Banking Exhibition which was held along the sidelines of the conference was inaugurated by Khalid Hamad Abdul-Rahman Hamad, Executive Director - Banking Supervision, Central Bank of Bahrain and showcased latest products, services and innovations from over 64 exhibitors.
WIBC 2011 continues on the 23rd of November and features keynote addresses from Jaseem Ahmed, the Secretary-General of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), and internationally respected academic Kishore Mahbubani.