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Islamic finance markets need ‘greater bonding’

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H.E. Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain

The World Islamic Banking Conference once again confirmed its position as the premier, largest and most influential annual gathering of international Islamic finance leaders as the 21st annual edition of WIBC 2014 took place at the Gulf Convention Centre in Bahrain.

The event was attended by over 1,300 industry leaders in excess of 50 countries representing more than 300 international and regional organisations. And a powerful line-up exceeding 90 international speakers discussed critical issues that would enable Islamic finance to move towards “a new growth paradigm in global financial markets”.

H.E. Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, noted that “The transformation of global financial markets in recent years has resulted in a new paradigm that has challenged banking institutions to re-think their business strategies and models.

“Given the continued rapid global expansion of the Islamic finance industry and the increasing inter-linkages between the key international jurisdictions, Islamic financial institutions are also experiencing a major phase of transformation.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain and the Central Bank of Bahrain have been a first-mover in terms of its support for the development of the Islamic finance industry. Today, Bahrain is an internationally respected Islamic finance hub that continues to set new standards and initiatives to propel the industry forward in a stable and resilient manner.”

Speaking at the “Power Debate” session, Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, chief executive officer, CIMB Islamic Bank, reinforced the importance of building international linkages. “With the growing internationalisation of the Islamic finance industry, it has become increasingly vital for the key Islamic finance markets to build stronger relationships with each other as well as to create in-roads for business networking opportunities and cross-regional transactions.”

Toby O’Connor, chief executive officer of the Islamic Bank of Asia, further underlined the need for global connectivity. “As Islamic finance continues to expand its geographic reach and depth, it is encouraging to see new opportunities for the industry to participate in international transactions across jurisdictions to help foster new business relationships between the key growth markets for Islamic finance.”

Mohammed Hassan, acting CEO of Bahrain Islamic Bank, said that “Islamic finance has a growing importance in the global financial markets as the industry continues to develop new opportunities both in its traditional core markets of the Middle East and SE Asia as well as continuing to build momentum in new emerging markets such as Europe and the Far East”.

He added, “WIBC (2014) has provided an important showcase to help drive the industry forward at a global level.”

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