Islamic bankers discuss 'new growth paradigm'
Manama, November 23, 2010
Confirming its position as the world’s largest and most influential annual gathering of Islamic finance leaders, the 17th annual 'World Islamic Banking Conference' (WIBC 2010) witnessed a grand opening in Bahrain.
The event kick-started on Monday with a series of stimulating pre-conference workshops and executive briefing sessions at the Gulf International Conventional Centre in Bahrain.
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 (CBB), the event saw more than 1,200 industry leaders from over 50 countries engaging in critical discussions that sought to “build a new growth paradigm” for the Islamic banking and finance industry in the new global financial landscape.
On behalf of the Prime Minister, the event was attended by Shaikh Salman Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, the Advisor to the Prime Minister. Zainul Abdin Rasheed, Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Singapore was also present at the event.
The inaugural keynote plenary session saw Rasheed M. Al Maraj, governor of the CBB and Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, chief executive officer and 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 strengthening industry foundations.
The session provided meaningful insights into new international regulatory developments that will strengthen the industry and create a more rigorous and robust architecture.
The inaugural plenary session was immediately followed by a high-powered CEO and industry leaders’ power debate.
Moderated by Sameer Abdi, partner - Advisory Services, Ernst & Young EMEIA, the power debate session assessed the future outlook for Islamic finance and evaluated the prospects for expanding the internationalization of Islamic finance in new high-potential markets.
This dynamic power debate featured Tirad Mahmoud, CEO of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank; Hussain AlQemzi, Group CEO of Noor Islamic Bank & Noor Investment Group; Samad Sirohey, CEO of Citi Islamic Investment Bank; Tariq Al-Samahiji, CEO of BNP Paribas Najmah and global head of BNP Paribas Islamic Finance and Investments; Ibrahim Hassan, CEO of Maybank Islamic and Dr Salah Addeen Abdulqader Saeed, general manager of Credit & Risk Management, Bahrain Islamic Bank.
Abdulrazak Elkhraijy, executive vice president and the head of Islamic Banking Development Group, The National Commercial Bank – Saudi Arabia, spoke at a special session on assessing the future direction and key developments in the Islamic banking industry.
Providing a UK perspective, a special roundtable session was hosted by the UK Trade and Investment which explored the industry opportunities and levels of predicted global growth in light of economic recovery.
This session featured Sultan Choudhury, executive board director, Islamic Bank of Britain; Richard Thomas, chief executive officer, Gatehouse Bank and Kazi Rahman, Lawyer and Islamic Finance Specialist - Banking & Finance Practice, Wragge & Co and was moderated by Nima Abu-Wardeh, Middle East business report presenter of BBC.
The other key topics discussed at various sessions at the conference included the changing nature of leadership in the new economic environment, defining the next stage of industry evolution - new market and product strategies for new economic realities, controversies in Islamic finance and key shari’ah challenges that the industry is facing today.
Presented by Amer Afiouni, partner at McKinsey & Company, the eagerly-awaited World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2010/11 was launched at a specially convened session at the conference.
Developed in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, the Report titled ‘In Search of New Opportunities’, examined the overall competitiveness of the sector, including its achievements and the challenges it faces; a new focus on the affluent high-net worth segment; how to measure “real” performance; the present and future opportunities in the Takaful market; and strategies for Islamic commercial banking suites for SMEs (small to medium-sized businesses).
The WIBC this year saw a record number of sponsors and exhibitors. The World Islamic Banking Exhibition which was held along the sidelines of the conference was inaugurated on Tuesday which showcased latest products, services and innovations from over 64 exhibitors.
Ebrahim Hussain Ebrahim, CEO and board member of Khaleeji Commercial Bank said they were delighted to be a key supporter of the WIBC as it was one of those very few global platforms where world leaders from the Shari’ah compliant banking and finance industry converge.
“The Bahrain Economic Vision 2030 ensures that the private sector is a key driver of the economy. At Khaleeji Commercial Bank, we do our best by providing leading commercial banking products and services that are fully Shari’a compliant.”
Similar views were expressed by Steve Donovan, managing director, head of Middle East and Pakistan, Global Transaction Services, Citi, who said that "Citi and the World Islamic Banking Conference have a long standing relationship with the Middle East.”
“By working together we are helping Middle Eastern and international firms of every kind turn challenge into opportunity by bringing you excellent execution, global consistency and local market expertise”, he added.
Ernst & Young held a separate session along the sidelines of the conference. The session led by Sohaib Umar, Senior Manager at the Islamic Financial Services Group (IFSG) of Ernst & Young Bahrain, provided a comprehensive update on the findings of the Ernst & Young Islamic Funds and Investments Report 2010 which was launched earlier in May this year.-TradeArabia News Service