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The 8th Annual World Islamic Funds and Financial Markets Conference 2012 set to begin on the 20th of May in the Kingdom of Bahrain

WIFFMC 2012 to Discuss Key Strategies for Profitably Expanding the Global Footprint of Islamic Investments

Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker, Executive Director – Financial Institutions Supervision, Central Bank of Bahrain.

Manama: Kingdom of Bahrain: 19 May 2012: As the Islamic finance industry continues to be one of the fastest growing components of the global financial system, with an estimated growth rate of 15% – 20%, international markets are witnessing an expanding demand for Islamic financial products and services – even beyond the traditional markets of South East Asia and the Middle East.

The Islamic funds and investments industry has seen steady growth over the past decade due to the growing global demand for Shari’ah-compliant financial products and services and a significant increase in the number of institutions structuring Islamic investment products. According to Ernst & Young the Islamic funds industry grew to US$ 58 bn, achieving a growth of 7.6% in 2010.

Held under the theme “New Growth Horizons: Expanding The Global Footprint of Islamic Funds and Investments”, the 8th Annual World Islamic Funds and Financial Markets Conference (WIFFMC 2012), which is set to be held on the 20th and 21st of May 2012 in the Gulf Hotel in the Kingdom of Bahrain, will gather leading players, industry thought leaders and key regulators in the international Islamic funds and investments industry for discussions that will seek to capitalise on the new opportunities and chart the future direction of the global Shari’ah-compliant funds and investments industry.

The two day event, held under the official patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain, will be officially inaugurated with an opening keynote address by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker, Executive Director – Financial Institutions Supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain. Speaking ahead of the event, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker said that “as with other forms of Islamic finance, the Islamic funds industry has grown to become an increasingly substantial segment within the global financial markets and has gained significant interest as a viable and efficient alternative model of financial intermediation. Growing awareness and increasing demand for investing in accordance with Shari’ah principles on a global scale have been the catalyst towards making the Islamic financial services industry a flourishing industry. This is also a reflection of the increasing wealth and capacity of investors, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to seek and invest in new investment products that serve their needs.”

He also said that “with Islamic finance having considerable capacity to meet large investment requirements, opportunities therein lie in the more effective and efficient channelling of the sizeable surplus funds towards the vast productive investment opportunities within and across various key markets for Islamic finance.”

A similar view was expressed by David McLean, Chief Executive of the World Islamic Funds and Financial Markets Conference, who noted that “with an addressable universe in excess of US $ 500bn for Islamic fund managers, which is still growing by at least 10% – 15% annually, it is essential that the industry players seize this opportunity and innovate new Islamic instruments and encourage more spending in research and development, in order to widen the contribution of Islamic investments in the global financial market.”

“With Sukuk emerging as a new asset class for global investors, it is essential to see that the demands of sophisticated investors are met in order to maintain the current growth levels that the Islamic funds industry has achieved. This calls for coordinated efforts in order to further improve the market for both issuers and investors”, he added.

Ken Owens, Chairman, Irish Funds Industry Association (IFIA)

A key highlight of WIFFMC 2012 will be the high profile CEO and Industry Leaders’ Power Debate. The session moderated by Rushdi Siddiqui, Global Head Islamic Finance & OIC Countries, Thomson Reuters and featuring Datuk Noripah Kamso, Chief Executive, CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd; Fernand Grulms, Chief Executive Officer, Luxembourg for Finance; Ken Owens, Chairman, Irish Funds Industry Association (IFIA); and Dr. Salah Addeen A Qadar Saeed, General Manager – Credit & Risk Management, Bahrain Islamic Bank, will share critical insights on aligning business strategies with new economic realities and profitably expanding the global footprint of Islamic investments.

Commenting on his participation at the event, Ken Owens, Chairman of the Irish Funds Industry Association (IFIA) said that “as the Chairman of the Irish Fund Industry I am honoured to be asked to speak at the 8th Annual World Islamic Funds and Financial Markets Conference and we very much look forward to our participation at this very prestigious event. As an international fund jurisdiction we very much look forward to our participation amongst this impressive gathering of senior industry representatives to discuss the different industry issues and how we in Ireland can assist the asset management community to respond to the challenges and add to the opportunities for their business in this fast changing world. It is also an excellent showcase for Ireland to demonstrate our capabilities and our determination to be the leading European centre for Islamic Finance.”

WIFFMC 2012 will also feature an exclusive session on Corporate Issuers’ Perspectives led by major new corporate borrowers. The interactive panel discussion features Daniele Vecchi, Senior Vice President/Head of Group Treasury, MAF Holding LLC; Paul Gay, Chief Finance Officer, Almarai; and Mona Al-Tawil, Head of Syndication, HSBC Saudi Arabia, will seek to build further momentum for the increasing importance of various Islamic finance instruments, particularly Sukuk, in the corporate funding mix.

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