Sunday 1, November 2015

Bahrain – MENA Herald: The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) and EY hosted a press conference to discuss the key strategic imperatives for the industry on the 1 November 2015 at the Awal Ballroom, Gulf Hotel, Bahrain.
Held exactly one month ahead of the 22nd Annual WIBC, the press conference was an opportunity for EY to highlight key strategic insights from the much-awaited EY World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2015-2016.
The report has for several years been a key feature at the annual WIBC, which is globally renowned for being, among other things, a platform for cutting-edge thought leadership and intelligence for the past 22 years. The full year’s report will be developed by EY’s award-winning Global Islamic Banking Centre and exclusively launched at WIBC 2015 on the 2 December 2015.
Speaking at the press conference, Ashar Nazim, Partner – Global Islamic Finance Leader at EY, said: “The key findings of the EY World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report  (WIBCR) 2015-2016 provide some groundbreaking revelations which will help shape the future of Islamic banks. Innovations in technology and digitalization call for transformation of customers’ banking experience across channels and all touch points and this transformation can help banks anticipate the changing needs of customer.”
According to the report, the GCC Islamic banking profit pool crossed US$12bn for the first time in 2014, with expectations that the sector will continue to grow amid regional economic uncertainty. Nine core markets are currently the growth engines for the global Islamic finance industry. The report identifies a group of 40 banks across these nine core markets that are systemically important to the future progress of the industry. Out of the 40 banks, over 50% have an equity base of US$1bn or more.
“The growth of the Islamic banking industry in the GCC, specifically in Saudi Arabia, in the past few years can be attributed to the increased public sector spending on the back of oil revenues.  It will be interesting to see how banks are affected as governments draw their reserves from the banking sector to narrow the gap on budget deficits due to the drop in the global oil price,” said Muzammil Kasbati, Director, Global Islamic Banking Center at EY.
Ashar Nazim continued, “The hope is that the insights will serve to spur critical discussions among CEOs of the top Islamic banks – not just at the conference, but beyond it, in boardrooms and other decision-making areas where we hope to have the most impact.”
The UAE’s Islamic banking sector in particular has been gaining momentum backed by its innovation and growing digital footprint, thus putting it on par with Malaysia in terms of global market share.
Alongside Mr. Nazim at the press conference was Dr. Sayd Farook, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Middle East Global Advisors, the conveners of WIBC during its 22-year history. Dr. Farook reiterated WIBC’s long-standing role in shaping thought leadership within the Islamic finance industry: “WIBC has served in promoting and nurturing the Islamic banking industry for the past 22 years. Acting as a platform to provide resourceful insights on the opportunities and challenges, WIBC has played a pivotal role in bringing together the leaders of the Islamic banking industry to form constructive alliances and thereby strengthen the foundations of the industry.”
He further added, “The launch of the WIBC Ernst and Young World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report is proof of the Islamic banking industry’s reliance on WIBC as the single most effective platform from which to disseminate critical insights.”
WIBC 2015 is a three-day gathering of the industry’s leaders taking place on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December at the Gulf Hotel in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. For more information, visit<>.