16th March 2021, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, Beirut, Lebanon | The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) and the Union of Arab Banks (UAB) have virtually launched their 2nd joint Forum today with the theme, “Islamic Finance for Sustainable Economic Growth in the MENA Region: From Crises to Opportunities”.
Following their first successful Forum in 2016 in Tunisia, CIBAFI and UAB members and stakeholders convened to discuss sustainable economic growth within the Islamic finance industry, focusing on the MENA region.
This timely Forum provides a platform for discussions on how Islamic financial institutions in MENA region are facing the current pandemic with greater flexibility and strength. It aimed to address the challenges and showcase the opportunities that Islamic finance presents to enable sustainable economic growth.
The Forum witnessed an unrivalled turnout of official representatives from the international and national organisations, governments, financial institutions, Islamic finance practitioners, private sector, policymakers, and regulators, in addition to media and other stakeholders.
The Forum featured opening remarks from Dr. Abdelilah Belatik, Secretary General, General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) where he stressed on the growing importance of sustainability and innovation within the financial industry in general and Islamic financial services industry in particular; and Mr. Wissam Fattouh, Secretary General, Union of Arab Banks (UAB) where he mentioned ten important goals to be achieved by Islamic finance and Islamic Banking. The opening session also witnessed a Special Keynote Address from H.E. Dr. Bandar M. H. Hajjar, President, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In his speech, his Excellency, the President highlighted on the growing role of Islamic finance in facilitating sustainable development and mitigating the effects of the current pandemic.
The Forum included two panel sessions. The first panel was moderated by Dr. Ali Adnan Ibrahim, Global Head, Sustainability and Social Responsibility, Al Baraka Banking Group, Kingdom of Bahrain while the panelists included Mr. Khalid Al Kayed, Chief Executive Officer, Bank Nizwa, Sultanate of Oman; Mr. Iyad Asali, General Manager, Islamic International Arab Bank PLC, Jordan; Dr. Hatim El-Tahir, Director - Audit & Assurance, Deloitte, Kingdom of Bahrain; and Prof. Dr. Ahmet Faruk Aysan, Professor & Program Coordinator, College of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar. The session’s discussion focused on the resilience of Islamic financial markets under the MENA region's current circumstances. It highlighted the main challenges and opportunities that are taken or could be taken to mitigate the adverse effects during and after the pandemic period.
The second panel was moderated by Eng. Suleiman Barada, Sr. Advisor & Head of UAB Digital, Union of Arab Banks (UAB), while the panelists included Mr. Alibek Nurbekov, Head of the AIFC Islamic Finance & Business Hub, Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), Kazakhstan; Mr. Mohammad Fairuz Mohd Radi, Chief Strategy Officer, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Berhad; and Dr. Ömer Emeç, Head of Strategy and Chief Economist, Al Baraka Türk Participation Bank, Turkey. This panel focused on how digital innovation could positively impact Islamic financial institutions' role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its significance in times of crises.
CIBAFI and UAB thanked all speakers and participants from various sectors and countries for their active involvement, contributing significantly to the Forum’s success.