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The World Islamic Banking Conference to deliver the industry’s pressing need for innovation, impact and leadership

The 22nd annual gathering of Islamic finance pioneers returns this December as a fresh and innovative platform

imgManama, Kingdom of Bahrain, 25 August 2015:
The annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) – the compass of the Islamic financial services industry for 22 years – will yet again galvanise the global Islamic banking and finance industry. WIBC 2015 will be the first in over 2 decades to fully harness technology, social media and cutting edge research. Indeed, this December’s gathering promises to shift the bar even higher by connecting participants from the Middle East, Africa, East Asia, Central Asia and Europe with one another through technology, and to the promising opportunities for values-based financial services.

Growing from a mere 120 delegates in 1994 to more than 1300 delegates from across the world in 2014, WIBC has come a long way. Promising fresh and topical content, the forum has been redesigned in recognition of the transition that is underway in the Islamic financial services industry as it marks in 40th anniversary and the critical breakthrough point of $2 trillion in assets in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Highlighting the importance of this year’s WIBC to shape the future of Islamic finance, Dr. Sayd Farook, Chief Executive Officer of Middle East Global Advisors – the conveners of WIBC 2015 – stated: “Based on fundamental drivers and supply side bottlenecks easing, the Islamic finance industry is expected to double to US$ 4 trillion by 2020 at current growth rates. This is partially driven by demographics – the world’s estimated 1.6 billion Muslim population is expected to grow to 2.2 billion by 2030 and is growing at two times the global average according to Pew Research Centre, yet it remains largely underbanked if not unbanked.’

He further elaborated on December’s historic gathering: “Given the importance of this landmark year, WIBC 2015 will start with a critical review of the lofty ambitions that drove the foundation of the industry and will ask what could be done better in the future to realize the vision that the founders set out to create.”

Actionable insights and dialogue are integral components of the renewed WIBC. The event will host breakout sessions along two parallel tracks to facilitate focused and high impact discussions and business opportunities: banking and asset management. Sessions will connect banking leaders to new emerging markets and asset managers to asset allocation opportunities in 2016. Industry pioneers from the banking and capital market sectors will discuss head-on leadership challenges in banking.

WIBC 2015 will build on its track-record as a definitive platform for thought leadership. In the past, Guru speakers have included globally renowned leaders such as Sir Howard Davies, Former Chairman of the European Central Bank, Professor Robert Kaplan of Harvard Business School, Nicholas Naseem Taleb, the author of “The Black Swan,” and Dr. Mark Mobius, Emerging Markets Guru and Executive Chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets.

The emphasis on technology is another new feature of WIBC 2015. Sessions will explore how to take Islamic finance forward in a digitally connected world with insights from pioneers and innovators in the financial technology space. Key players from mobile banking, crowdfunding, crypto-currencies and other ‘disruptive’ forces will lead the innovation agenda at the conference. On a related note, the conversations at WIBC will be powered by an exclusive WIBC App to maximise connectivity between speakers and audience, as well as between participants and the virtual conversation on key issues.

The sustainable future of Islamic finance, among other things, is premised on business models that have a better impact on the global ‘real’ economy. WIBC recognises this and indeed the role of technology in fostering financial inclusion will be a major part of the innovation agenda.

Highlighting the role of financial inclusion and speaking to the industry’s growth and potential, Mr. Khalid Hamad, Executive Director – Banking Supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain stated: “Islamic finance has grown rapidly over the past decade promising the potential for further contributions in assuring greater financial inclusion, especially in large underserved Muslim population, emphasizing on asset-backed financing and incorporating risk-sharing features to pose less systemic risk than conventional finance. The Kingdom of Bahrain and the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) have been a market pioneer in terms of their 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. The ground-breaking platform of the 22nd World Islamic Banking Conference will shed light into the concept of financial inclusivity and technology-enabled features that will drive the industry mainstream into a global and digitally advanced phase.”

The 22nd World Islamic Banking Conference will take place at the prestigious Gulf Hotel in the Kingdom of Bahrain on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December.

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