MANAMA: Bahrain's position as the international capital of Islamic finance has been confirmed by the industry's enthusiasm for the kingdom as a key conference centre.
This week's World Islamic Funds Conference which closed at the Gulf Hotel yesterday, saw a record number of delegates from across the world come to Bahrain and debate the latest developments in the industry.
Conference organiser David McLean said that he was overwhelmed by the turnout for the event, now in its seventh year in Bahrain.
He added that the unrest earlier in the year had not in any way diminished the country's leadership in the field.
"The international turnout and delegate numbers hit a new record this year and we are definitely coming back to Bahrain next year," he said.
Mr McLean is bringing the World Islamic Banking Conference back here in November for the 18th consecutive year and we has already signed up more sponsors and more top class speakers than ever before.
"Delegate interest is already way ahead of previous years and last year we had 1,500 senior Islamic financial experts in attendance," he continued.
"Bahrain is very much the home of Islamic finance and the banking conference this year has already attracted new visitors from as far afield as Bermuda, Singapore, Malaysia and Luxembourg as well as regular visitors from across Europe, Asia and the Middle East."
He said that the funds conference had been extremely positive about the industry, particularly in the area of the growth of the sukuk market.
There is a real belief that the Islamic finance industry can continue to grow at a steady rate in spite of the economic problems associated with sovereign debt in Europe and the slowdown in economic growth in the US, he said.
Bahrain-based International Islamic Financial Market chief executive officer Ijal Ahmed Alvi felt the fund conference had been a major success despite troubles in the global economy with a strong participation from the US, UK and Europe.
"This conference has highlighted the challenges and the positive options the industry faces," he said.
"I think it has been very good for the industry as a whole and demonstrates that the Islamic finance industry can continue to grow in spite of the economic problems faced elsewhere," he said.
"The conference has shown that it is a key event for industry professionals from different disciplines across Islamic finance to share experience and exchange ideas," said UAE based Mashreq Al Islami chief executive officer Moinuddin Malim, who was a speaker at the event.
"It allows us to come away with new perspectives about the industry."