Manama / Emirates Business
The 5th Euromoney GCC Financial Forum, co-hosted by Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), kicked off on Tuesday on a high note at Four Seasons Hotel, Kingdom of Bahrain, with an interactive format to encourage delegate participation. More than 500 leading international and regional financial experts from finance, investment, government, regulatory organisations, businesses and members of the media from 24 countries attended the event.
The inaugural welcome note was presented by Richard Banks, Consulting Editor of Euromoney Conferences and the keynote interview was held with Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB . The keynote address was delivered by Gazi Ercel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Ercel Global Advisory. Other senior dignitaries present at the event were H.E. Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor, Central Bank of Bahrain , Mahmood Hashim Al Kooheji, Chief Executive Officer, Mumtalakat, Abdul Razak Al Qassim, Chief Executive Officer, National Bank of Bahrain (NBB), Abdulkarim Bucheery, Chief Executive, BBK, Jackson Tai, Independent Non-Executive Director, The Bank of China and MasterCard.
His Excellency Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) participated in an open Town Hall session which proved to be the highlight of the event. He was posed questions by the audience and live on Twitter.
Commenting on the event, H.E The Governor said: “I very much enjoyed the opportunity to participate in today’s forum. Sustained low oil prices are of course a concern for us. However, Bahrain’s highly developed regulatory environment, the increasingly diverse makeup of our economy and the fiscal measures taken by the Government recently will help us to address the challenges in the current climate. CBB will continue to ensure the safety and stability of the financial sector in Bahrain amid a changing market environment.”
Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB commented ahead of his keynote address;
“As the GCC economies have expanded and developed, the region has become an increasingly important location for investment and expansion for international businesses, and this in turn has been one element that has helped to grow the financial services sector. Bahrain has been a centre for the financial services sector for over forty years, building on the country’s unique value proposition, including a well-educated workforce, cost competitive environment and tried and tested regulations as well as access to the Gulf market.”
“Looking ahead, Bahrain will continue to develop its strong regional offering, including key sub-sectors that we have identified as strategic priorities, such as Islamic finance, ancillary services and asset management.”
Alissa Amico, Manging Director of Govern said: “In the current macro-economic context, it is crucial to discuss the development of the capital markets in the GCC as a viable alternative to bank-based financing. Attracting greater foreign institutional investment is imperative not only to continue improving corporate governance practices but also to finance corporate growth in the region which requires more equity-based financing. The regulatory environment for listings also merits further re-thinking to ensure capital markets can adequately support growth companies. This has proven to be a formidable challenge on which we are working with the regulators and exchanges in a number of countries in the MENA region.”
This year the forum was supported by Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK) and National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) as lead sponsors, Bahrain Development Bank Group and Mumtalakat as co-sponsors, Baker & McKenzie as exhibitor and Bahrain Islamic Bank (BiSB), BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered and Tamkeen as supporting organisations.