Manama – MENA Herald : His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister has deputized H.E Rasheed Al Maraj, the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, to open the 22nd Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) at Gulf Hotel today. Considered as the leading compass for the Islamic finance industry, the 3-day event is being held under the patronage of HRH the Prime Minister and will see the participation of over 1,200 leaders of the industry from Europe, East Asia, Middle East and North Africa.

The discussions will focus on the future progress of Islamic finance which is celebrating the  40th anniversary since launch.

In the morning, WIBC 2015 hosted no less than 4 central bank Governors and deputy governors, featuring speeches and discussions by the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, H.E. Rasheed Al Maraj, the Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman, H.E. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali, Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Riaz Riazuddin and the Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, Nurlan Kussainov.

Opening the historic forum was the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain’s, H.E. Rasheed Al Maraj, who said: “The announced centralized Shariah board for Bahrain has been given wide authority to direct the innovation in Bahrain’s Islamic finance sector”. Bahrain is renowned as a global Islamic finance hub, coming second in Thomson Reuters’ Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI), reflecting its healthy ecosystem as the country seeks to increase the proportion of assets being managed from its jurisdiction. The Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman, H.E. Hamood Sangour Al-Zadjali stated: “The Islamic finance industry will benefit from and lead wider socioeconomic development once an operational framework is set up”.

Overall, the opening ceremony was attended by central bank dignitaries from Turkey, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Sudan, South Africa and Indonesia, as well as senior officials from Abu Dhabi Global Market, Dubai International Financial Center Authority, Qatar Financial Centre Authority, Toronto Financial Services Alliance, Luxembourg for Finance and the Ministry of Finance & Treasury of the Republic of Maldives.

The Governors’ remarks were followed with an exceptional line-up of seasoned and respected industry practitioners who took stock of the 40-year-old industry, assessing its growth, impact and achievements as well as discussing what the future roadmap should look like. Five of the most respected global leaders in Islamic finance addressed the core question of how the current system can converge with its original proposition: H.E. Nurlan Kussainov, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, Datuk Professor Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim, CEO of International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM), Noor Abid, Board Member of Kuwait Finance House Group, Dato. Professor Azmi Omar, Director General, Islamic Research and Training Institute, Islamic Development Bank and Dr. Sayd Farook, Vice Chairman & CEO of Middle East Global Advisors.

The conveners of WIBC, Middle East Global Advisors – an intelligence platform serving the Middle East North Africa Southeast Asia (MENASEA) region for the last 22 years – organised an incredible line-up of speakers for the rest of the afternoon of the 2nd of December. They include industry leaders such as Stephen Vineburg, CEO of ASMA Capital Partners, renowned Islamic economist Dr. Mohamed Elgari, Talal Yassine, Managing Director at Crescent Wealth, Michael McMillen, Global Head of Islamic Finance & Investment at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.

The 3rd and final day of WIBC 2015 continues on the 2nd of December and will witness the highly anticipated speeches on the impact of oil markets and China’s economy on Islamic economies and financial markets – by Dr. Hani Findakly, former CIO of the World Bank Group and current Vice Chairman of the Clinton Group, and Manjiang Cheng, Chief Economist at Bank of China International respectively.