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MENAFN Press - 08/12/2009

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(MENAFN Press) More than 1,200 international delegates from over 50 countries gathered in Bahrain today to work towards new strategies for the global Islamic finance industry in light of the new economic realities that are emerging in a changing business landscape.

The 16th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2009), the worlds largest and most influential gathering of Islamic finance leaders, kicked-off today with the inaugural plenary session which featured a series of prominent keynote addresses from H.E. Rasheed M. Al Maraj, the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain; H.E. Heng Swee Keat, Governor of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; H.E. Aset O. Issekeshev, the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Republic of Kazakhstan; and H.E. Khalid M. Al-Aboodi, the CEO & General Manager of The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, the private sector arm of the IDB Group.

This was immediately followed by the keynote plenary session which provided the perspectives of industry leaders on growth strategies in the aftermath of the global economic crisis. Diversifying the revenue base of Islamic financial institutions while understanding risks to ongoing industry success in the context of the turmoil in the international financial markets were some of the issues discussed during this session. This session was chaired by Citi and speakers included Dr. Alaa Al Yousuf, the Chief Economist of Gulf Finance House; Dr. Salah Addeen A Qader Saeed, the GM- Credit & Risk Management for Bahrain Islamic Bank; and Dr. Montassar BenMrad, Executive Partner - Leader Financial Services Sector MENA, IBM Global Business Services.

UK perspectives on the development, growth and the future outlook for Islamic finance was the focus of a parallel roundtable session hosted by UKTI. Nima Abu Wardeh of BBC Middle East Business Report moderated this session and speakers included Humphrey Percy, the Chief Executive Officer of Bank of London and the Middle East; Darshan Bijur, Director of Islamic Finance Advisory at KPMG; Gillian Walmsley, Product Manager Debt & Specialist Securities at the London Stock Exchange; Richard Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Gatehouse Bank; and Muneer Khan, Partner & Head of Islamic Finance at Simmons & Simmons.

Sameer Abdi, Partner-Head of Islamic Financial Services for Ernst & Young Bahrain chaired an interactive session that focused on controversies in Islamic Finance. Panelists during this session included Andrew Leamon, Director, Head of Trust & Securities Services Sales in MENA for Deutsche Bank; and Neale Downes, Partner at Trowers & Hamlins.

A topical and thought-provoking session looked at ways of defining the next stage of evolution so as to take Islamic Finance from 1.0 to 2.0. Rushdi Siddiqui, Global Head of Islamic Finance at Thomson Reuters chaired this session while Jacques Tripon, Chief Executive Officer, BNP Paribas Najmah (Islamic Banking) Bahrain, Richard Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, Gatehouse Bank Arif Mohammed Al Alawi, Founder & CEO, Tharawat Investment House and Craig Hewett, Chief Business Officer, Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX) were the speakers. The need for global connectivity in Islamic finance, capacity building, open market architectures and standardisations between Europe, GCC and South East Asia were the topics discussed during this session.

Ozgur Tanrikulu, Partner (Principal) at McKinsey & Company, led the session that launched the much anticipated 2009/10 edition of the WIBC Competitiveness Report, a ground-breaking research report that provided original insights into how Islamic financial institutions are re-shaping their businesses in response to changing market conditions.

The 16th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference, supported by the Central bank of Bahrain, broke all previous attendance records with more than 70 sponsors and over 1,200 delegates attending what was seen as one of the most crucial WIBC events in history as the industry grappled with the challenges of a post-crisis business environment. Platinum partners of WIBC 2009 are Bahrain Islamic Bank, Gulf Finance House, Citi, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, and IBM.

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