Islamic Finance’s Flagship Forum to Forge the Future of the Industry in a Digitally Connected World

The world’s largest and longest-running gathering of global Islamic finance leaders is set to connect the industry with pioneers and innovators in the financial technology space. Supported by the Central Bank of Bahrain and under the patronage of HRH Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) will focus very prominently on the changing face of financial services in the digital age.

The internet and now near ubiquity of mobile phones are challenging the banking sector at an exponential pace. Mobile money, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and other new business models allow individuals to perform traditional banking services outside of the formal banking system – and WIBC 2015 is considered the definitive platform to address these challenges.

At the helm of WIBC is Dr. Sayd Farook, who was recently appointed the new Vice-Chairman and CEO of ME Global Advisors, an intelligence platform serving the emerging & frontiers markets within the Middle East North Africa Southeast Asia (MENASEA) region. Dr. Farook brings to WIBC extensive industry experience, including developing technology platforms to provide practical insights and spearhead the new age of digital banking for the industry. Speaking ahead of the event he said, “Over the past two decades, the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) has reaffirmed its position as the frontrunner in driving the Islamic finance industry mainstream. It has gathered luminaries from across the world – Central Bank governors, CEOs and leading thought leaders from across the Islamic world. This year, the industry’s flagship platform is to forge a fresh, innovative and technology-enabled phase of the industry’s development.”

Dr. Farook further elaborated on where the Islamic finance is: “The industry is undergoing rapid growth and transformation, having reached $1.94 trillion as at the end of 2014 with a 17% growth rate over the past three years according to data from the ICD Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI). As such, Islamic finance will play an increasingly pivotal role in shaping the Middle East North Africa Southeast Asia (MENASEA) economies as regional governments actively promote financial inclusion and infrastructure development through targeted Shariah compliant SME funding capacity and Shariah compliant funding instruments such as Sukuk.”

Dr. Farook will build on a 22-year heritage of WIBC serving annually over 1500 bankers, institutional investors, asset managers, policymakers, academics and other stakeholders within Islamic finance & banking from key markets. These include Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, the United States, Nigeria, Sudan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Asian growth markets. WIBC Guru speakers have included globally renowned leaders such as Sir Howard Davies, Former Chairman of the European Central Bank, Professor Robert Kaplan of Harvard Business School, Nicholas Naseem Taleb, the author of “The Black Swan,” and Dr. Mark Mobius, Emerging Markets Guru and Executive Chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets.

WIBC has annually reaffirmed its reputation in thought leadership. This year, Ernst and Young (EY) will play an integral role through the launch of the EY World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report, spearheaded by Ashar Nazim, Partner, Islamic Banking and Digital Financial Services, MENA at Ernst and Young. A long-term partner of WIBC, Ashar continues to pioneer the role of technology: “this year, our report will add tremendous value to the growing Islamic finance industry and will provide a new look into core international markets. It will further explore how digital innovation is set to positively disrupt traditional banking models.”

Thomson Reuters, WIBC’s Knowledge Partner, is playing a formative role in the showcasing of intelligence at the forum. Mustafa Adil, Acting Head of Islamic Finance at Thomson Reuters stated: “Thomson Reuters has remained a strategic partner of the World Islamic Banking Conference for over a decade. Every year, we see the growth of this landmark forum and our report studies the development and progress of the industry on a global scale. We look forward to contributing to the assessment of the industry with our exclusive insights from our IFDI Report“

Complementing the technology & innovation theme will be the exclusive WIBC App, aimed at maximizing impact and facilitating personalised connectivity between delegates and sponsors, audience and speakers.

WIBC 2015 will take place on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd December at the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain, the fastest developing Islamic finance hub in the MENASEA region.

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