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Islamic finance growth strategy to be probed

MANAMA: More than 1,200 delegates from 50 countries will take part in the 17th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2010) at the Gulf Hotel which will open today with pre-conference workshops.

The three-day event has been convened under the theme "Building a new growth paradigm - Islamic banking and the new global financial landscape".

"As the strategic exchange partner of the WIBC 2010, the Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX) looks forward to sharing its knowledge and practices on how exchanges can play a key role in the growth of Islamic finance," said BFX chief executive officer and managing director, Arshad Khan.

"With extensive research of the market, we recognise that there are many opportunities still to be explored within the Islamic finance industry and believe that exchange traded solutions for the Islamic market are the next key step.

"We are looking forward to showcasing our findings and insights into this dynamic market by addressing the conference participants with a presentation on, 'Exchanges: the catalyst for growth in Islamic Finance - BFX leading the way'."

WIBC 2010 will feature more than 60 leading industry partners and exhibitors showcasing their latest innovations at the World Islamic Banking Exhibition organised along the sidelines of the conference. The exhibition will be officially inaugurated on Tuesday.

The inaugural plenary session of WIBC 2010 today will feature high-powered discussions by key regulators in the Islamic finance industry on strengthening industry foundations to sustain growth in a challenging climate. This will be followed by a CEO and industry leaders' power debate which will examine and assess growth prospects for the consumer banking, corporate banking and investment banking markets.

"This year's event is the most crucial in its 17 years history as it comes at a juncture when the major industry players are seeking to re-visit key strategies that will focus on charting a new growth path for the Islamic finance industry in light of the new global financial landscape that has emerged post crisis," said conference organiser Mega Events managing director David McLean.

In addition to the launch of the World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2010/11 which is developed in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, this year's WIBC will also see for the first time, exclusive sessions held by Ernst & Young providing a comprehensive update on two of their most significant reports released in 2010 - the Ernst & Young World Takaful Report 2010 and the Ernst & Young Islamic Funds and Investments Report 2010.

A key highlight of WIBC 2010 is the specially convened Guru keynote session featuring world renowned investment leader and emerging markets guru and Templeton Emerging Markets Group executive chairman Mark Mobius.

This session, exclusively focused on shifting perspectives from crisis to recovery to sustainable growth, will address new realities in the global financial system and implications for Islamic banks.

"Since the bottom of the market in early 2009, prices have risen from those very low levels," said Mr Mobius.

"Nevertheless attractive valuations can be found since, on the average, those valuations are in the middle of their long-term range. Economic growth in emerging markets is sustainable in view of their strong fundamentals with high productivity, low debt to GDP ratios, and high foreign exchange reserves." The World Comes to WIBC initiative will this year feature a series of country pavilions. business@gdn.com.bh



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