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Breakthrough Industry Insights Unfold as the 26th World Islamic Banking Conference kicks off on a high note!

The 3-day conference witnessed over 1000 delegates and experts, 50 plus country representations, 98 plus partners and 60 plus high-profile speakers provided breakthrough insights that shall help Islamic Finance realise its global proposition. 

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, 4th December 2019: Under the patronage of HRH Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the 26th anniversary edition of The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC), the largest and longest-running gathering of Islamic banking and finance leaders in the world, saw over 1000 Industry leaders from various markets comprising the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe & America congregate from 2nd - 4th December in the Kingdom of Bahrain - the host nation of WIBC for the past two decades and one that has emerged as a global leader in Islamic finance.

Convened by Middle East Global Advisors - a leading financial intelligence platform facilitating the development of knowledge-based economies in the MENASEA markets and in strategic partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain, the forum is spurred a series of discussions focusing on “Mega Trends in Banking and Finance”, a theme that resonates with the conference’s steady vision to serve as a definitive check point for the global Islamic finance and banking industry.

His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa yesterday deputised his advisor Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa to open the 26th World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC).

The first day of the conference witnessed the Top Guru CEOs: from the World’s largest Islamic Banks at the CEO’s Power Table Steve Bertamini, Chief Executive Officer, Al Rajhi Bank; Dr. Adnan Chilwan, Group Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Islamic Bank; Mazin Al-Nahedh, Group Chief Executive Officer, Kuwait Finance House; Mazin Manna, Group Chief Executive Officer, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.

Mazin Al-Nahedh, Group Chief Executive Officer, Kuwait Finance House, Winner of the Best Islamic Digital Bank said, “Banks are investing in their own technology, as well as collaborating with FinTechs, to gain new capabilities. Simultaneously, digital banks were noted to be emerging as a direct competitor to the large institutions, taking advantage of technology and low operating costs to potentially provide cheaper products than traditional banks while meeting growing consumer demand for digital services. Competition between banks and new entrants may give way to direct collaboration across the Fintech ecosystem.

However, several major impediments inhibit collaboration between banks and FinTechs. From the banks’ perspective, FinTechs need to have the proper IT security and regulatory certainty, while FinTechs believe banks can be hard to work with due to differences in management and culture as well as differences in operational processes.- One important point to add in general about the whole FinTech, BigTech, debate as it relates to the banking industry- which is that although there are technological demands from the customers who are increasingly becoming more tech savvy, it remains that banking is a “service” industry and there is a key factor that needs to be addressed which is the special relationship between the banking institution and the customer who is looking for financial services. It is a very intimate and complex relationship that requires human interaction across the lifetime of the banking customer to meet their needs, and this is the part that will dictate success or failure.”

Another key highlight of the conference was the Regulator’s Power Table focusing on New Markets & Harmonization of Global Islamic Finance Standards with Panelists; Khalid Hamad Abdul–Rahman Hamad, Executive Director of Banking Supervision, Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB); Suhaeidi, Executive Director, Department of Islamic Economic and Finance, Bank Indonesia; Farah Jaafar-Crossby, Chief Executive Officer, Labuan IBFC; Dr. Qais Al Yahyaei, Executive Vice President, Central Bank of Oman; Taliya Minullina, Chief Executive Officer, Tatarstan Investment Development Agency.

The 26th WIBC also recognized excellence within the Islamic finance and banking industry at a high profile Gala Dinner on December 3rd whereby WIBC Performance Awards were presented by Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President & Chief Executive, Al Baraka Banking Group, Chairman, Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB), to the top performing Islamic financial institutions based on their performance in the WIBC Leaderboard – a groundbreaking performance assessment tool aimed at enabling Islamic financial institutions to benchmark their performance against their peers.

Al Rajhi Bank bagged the Best Performing Bank Award for Global & MENA regions, testament to its strong performance in the financial metrics of the WIBC Leaderboard.

Other winners at the 26th Annual WIBC Performance Awards include:

  • Best Performing Bank – Levant - Jordan Islamic Bank
  • Best Islamic Bank for Sustainable Initiatives – Al Baraka Banking Group
  • Best CSR Islamic Banking Group - Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
  • Best Islamic Bank (Financial Performance) - Dubai Islamic Bank
  • Best Islamic Bank (Financial Stability) - Kuwait Finance House
  • Best Islamic Digital Bank - Kuwait Finance House
  • Fastest Growing Islamic Fintech bank - Ithmaar Bank
  • Best Islamic Investment Bank – GFH Financial Group
  • Top Law Firm for M&A - MENA - Baker McKenzie
  • Top Advisory Firm for M&A – MENA – J.P. Morgan
  • Top Consultancy Firm for M&A – MENA - PwC

Since its inception 26 years ago, the World Islamic Banking Conference has been a significant contributor to enhancing growth, excellence and innovation in the Global Islamic Finance and Banking industry. Time and again, the conference has proven to be an ideal launching pad for research and intelligence reports, arming Industry leaders with pragmatic insights to help shape their organization’s strategic planning activities.

Some key highlights from the final day include the panel discussions focusing on The Objectives of Shari’ah and Islamic Finance, SMEs & Financial Inclusion, Sustainable Finance & Corporate Social Responsibility, Project Financing via Sukuk where leading industry experts analysed the challenges at hand and focused on coming up with effective suggestions with the ultimate aim of developing a convergence roadmap for the Islamic Finance industry at large.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Najeeb Haider, Manager of Investment Operations (IO) Department III, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) stated, “AIIB was founded to bring countries together to address Asia’s daunting infrastructure funding gap. Our mission is to improve economic and social development in Asia and beyond through a focus on sustainable infrastructure, cross-border connectivity and private capital mobilization. AIIB has committed capital from 100 members of US$ 100 billion of which US$20 billion is paid in. We are rated AAA /Aaa/ AAA.”

In the Panel discussion on SMEs & Financial Inclusion, Noor Azmi Mat Said, Chief Executive Officer, SME Corporation Malaysia said, “One of the key issues in SME development is "Access to Financing". About 95% of business establishment in all economies are SMEs. We must be creative in packaging our offering as different level of SMEs i.e. micro, small and medium, differs in needs and capability. Emerging model such as hybrid, equity crowd funding, peer to peer funding, crowd funding, supply side financing, etc. are taking shape and popularity. Further, "borderless financing", "geo-economical disruption" and "industry 4.0" are also coming. Are current Islamic Banking model offering ready to compete for SMEs given such scenario?”

The conference witnessed a power-packed line-up of speakers comprising His Excellency Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Dr. Jihad Azour, Director – Middle East & Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund; Steve Bertamini, Chief Executive Officer, Al Rajhi Bank; Dr. Adnan Chilwan, Group Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Islamic Bank; Mazin Al-Nahedh, Group Chief Executive Officer, Kuwait Finance House; Mazin Manna, Group Chief Executive Officer, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank; Abdulhakeem Alkhayyat, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Kuwait Finance House Bahrain; Najeeb Haider, Manager of Investment Operations (IO) Department III, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); Noor Azmi Mat Said, Chief Executive Officer, SME Corporation Malaysia; among others.

Partners at The 26th WIBC include: Kuwait Finance House, Ithmaar Bank, Khaleeji Commercial Bank (KHCB), Bank ABC Islamic, Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), First Energy Bank, Al Baraka Banking Group, GFH Financial Group, AAOIFI, The Perth Mint, Moody’s Investors Service, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), Eiger Trading, DDCAP Group, Keypoint, FitchRatings, Tejoury, GPS, Sadad, Directorate of International Programmes, ANO, IMTF and Mazars. Supporting Partners: Bahrain Association of Banks & Arab Bankers Association, Official PR Partner: TRACCS.

One of the unique feature of WIBC 2019 was the new application that was launched for the event – ME Global Advisors which listed the Program for the delegates. It was also used for easy registration, Live Question & Answers, One to One Meeting Invites and Live Polling.
For more information on the 26th World Islamic Banking Conference, visit:
Join the global conversation on Twitter at: @WIBC2019 #WIBC2019 #26YearsOfWIBC

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Middle East Global Advisors (MEGA) is the leading gateway connectivity and intelligence platform to Islamic finance opportunities in the rapidly developing economic region that stretches all the way from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East- The Middle East North Africa Southeast Asia (MENASEA) connection. For 25 years, our exclusive focus on achieving business results for the Islamic finance industry has enabled us to create significant value for the leading players in the Islamic banking, finance and investment markets.

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The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) has established its reputation as the world's largest and most influential gathering of international Islamic banking and finance leaders for over two decades. With the strategic support of the Central Bank of Bahrain, the next generation WIBC will focus on transforming Islamic finance into a global proposition by facilitating strategic opportunities, addressing systematic challenges and connecting international market players and institutional investors to the industry's catalysts, thought leaders, partners and institutions.

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