The 14th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) opened today under the patronage of HH Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
HE Rasheed M. Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain welcomed 1,000 delegates from over 35 countries at the grand opening ceremony held at the Gulf International Convention Centre in Bahrain.The conference proceedings began with the high-profile opening session, the Financial and Regulatory Architecture: Enabling Industry Growth & Containing Risks led by HE Mr. Al Maraj.
Hon. Burhanuddin Abdullah, Governor of the Bank of Indonesia continued the discussion and stated:
This occasion is certainly an important stepping-stone, which would contribute in determining our pathway to the future in building a more resilient and prosperous Islamic banking and financial industry. It is clear that the recent developments in the international Islamic banking and financial industry are a reflection of our eagerness to intensify the economic and financial activities under the compliance of Sharia principles.
The keynote plenary session was lead by Adnan A. Al Musallam, Chairman & CEO, Investment Dar, Abdulrazzak Mohammed Elkhraijy Head of Islamic Banking Development Group of National Commercial Bank, David W. Pace, Chief Financial Officer of Unicorn Investment Bank, Dr. Omar Marwan Kamal, Executive Vice President – Investment Group Head Al Salam Bank – Bahrain B.S.C. and Sohail Masood, Head of Islamic Banking for Samba Financial Group. Assessing the future development of the Islamic Finance Industry, Islamic Banking becoming a truly Globalised Industry, Key Ingredients for Success in New Markets and Tapping New Sources of Growth were the main issues discussed in this session.
The official launch of the WIBC Competitiveness Report 2007/08, opened by Afaq Khan, Chief Executive Officer – Islamic Banking for Standard Chartered Saadiq and conducted by Ozgur Tanrikulu, Partner and Chris Figee, Partner at McKinsey & Company, provided an opportunity to assess the key findings of the research programme. The key discussion points of the report included an update on the competitive performance of leading Islamic banks, asset management trends, risk management in Islamic banking plus an assessment of the growth potential for Islamic banking in Asia.
This year, WIBC also featured the inaugural Country Focus Roundtable, a debate featuring a panel of international experts representing exciting new growth markets for Islamic financial services, with a special focus on the UK, South Africa, Asia & North America. The debate further built on the spotlight surrounding the exciting international growth markets for the industry. The discussions were led by Mohammed Paracha, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Al Salam Bank – Bahrain B.S.C. The panel discussion featured Richard Thomas, Managing Director, Global Securities House (UK) Ltd & Chairman of the Islamic Financial Services Subcommittee, UK Trade & Investment FSSAB, Ahmed Moola, Managing Director, Absa Islamic Banking, South Africa, Noor Ur Rahman Abid, Managing Partner for Assurance and Advisory Business Services, Ernst & Young – Middle East, Abdi Shayesteh, Associate Attorney, King & Spalding LLP & Arjay Gavankar, Associate Principal, McKinsey & Company.
The Country Focus Roundtable explored the appetite and potential for Islamic finance in non-Islamic countries, the major initiatives underway in key emerging markets for Islamic finance and the enabling regulatory frameworks being put in place for industry developments and provided key insights into new developments in Islamic banking in the UK, South Africa, Asia and North America.
The World Islamic Banking Exhibition was also inaugurated today by HE Rasheed M. Al Maraj. The exhibition schedule to conclude on Monday, December 10, showcases leading Islamic banks, finance companies, insurance companies, international media, legal advisors and IT providers specializing in solutions that improve efficacy and performance.
The WIBC 2007 delegates engaged in stimulating debates on the major issues in the interactive conference sessions, which were moderated by Hisham Ayass, Senior Financial Markets Analyst & Presenter for CNBC Arabia.
In addition to the main conference sessions, the activities and discussions that took place on the sidelines of the main conference included the Closed-Door Strategy Session, international press conferences, pre-dinner reception and Networking functions. During the Closed-Door Strategy Session, senior executives representing leading Islamic financial institutions debated the findings of the much anticipated WIBC McKinsey Competitiveness Report 2007-08. Three pre-conference briefings also concluded here yesterday. These included the McKinsey Workshop on Key Strategic Challenges; The Marketing Effectiveness Study of Retail Islamic Financial Services and the afternoon workshop on International Financial Ratings.
Tonight, The Islamic Banker of the Year Award will be presented at the Conference Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony. The peer-based recognition award is the one of the most prestigious in the industry with the winner voted by international industry leaders. The results will be declared by by Ernst & Young, the official award auditors. The other prestigious International Industry Awards that are scheduled to be presented are The Industry Leadership Award and the Institutional Excellence Award.
WIBC 2007 has broken all past records in terms of the numbers of strategic partners and features the market leaders as partners, hosts, exhibitors or media partners and associates.
The conference will conclude on December 10 with the PowerTable, a high-powered interactive debate session focusing on Performance, Growth and the Way Forward. A panel of leading international and regional specialists including policy makers, scholars, business leaders and financial experts will debate the key issues with the delegates which will be captured as part of the WIBC Summation & Recommendations.
The Strategic Partners & Associates of the conference include the Central Bank of Bahrain, Bahrain Financial Services Development Bureau, National Commercial Bank, Unicorn Investment Bank, Al Salam Bank Bahrain, Samba Financial Group, Investment Dar, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Al Baraka banking group, Standard Chartered Saadiq, Ithmaar banking group which includes; Ithmaar Bank, Shamil Bank, Solidarity, First Leasing bank, Ithmaar Development Company, Faysal Bank & Faisal Private Bank, McKinsey & Company, European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB), Bahrain Islamic Bank, Ernst & Young, Masraf Al Rayan, Merill Lynch, i-flex solutions, UK Trade & Investment, London Stock Exchange, GSH UK, International Financial Service London, Securities & Investment Institute, British Expertise, alburaq, Islamic Bank of Britain, Bank of London and the Middle East, DDCAP Limited, Al Baraka Islamic Bank, KPMG, ABC Islamic bank, ABC Islamic Asset Management, Investment Dar Bank, DWS Investments, Infrasoft Tech, Fitch Ratings, Calyx Financial, Herbert Smith, Calyon Credit Agricole CIB, BankMuscat International, Norton Rose, Shariyah Review Bureau, Human Resources Fund, Dechert, Burouj Capital, Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA), MTI Consulting, Universal Payment Services (UPS), CIMA, Path Solutions, Microlink, Maybank, Menatelecom & Temenos.
The Conference has attracted media support from across the globe. Media Partners and Associates are Banker Middle East, CNBC Arabiya, IFIS, Zawya, New Horizon, Forbes Arabiya, Islamic Business & Finance, Al Bayan, Capital Business Magazine, Business Islamica, The Middle East in Europe, Al Morakeb Al Inmai, Business Life, Islamic Finance News, Khaleej Times, Trends, Saneou Al Hadath, Arabian Business group, Investors, Qatar Today, Qatar Al Youm, Al Ittihad Al Iktissadi, Executive & Shirkah Finance.