(Manama) – Senior government officials, regulators and economists joined local and international financiers and business leaders at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Financial Forum in Manama for two days of high level discussions and networking hosted by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and Euromoney.
“The forum attracts a high-level audience, both locally and internationally, and is a testament to Bahrain’s significance as a financial services hub in the region,” Khalid Al Rumaihi, EDB Chief Executive,said as he opened the conference attended by 600 participants. “Our annual forum affords us an excellent opportunity to welcome a wide range of key market participants from all over the world, allowing us to showcase Bahrain, its strategic importance in the GCC and the myriad of opportunities in financial services that the country has to offer.”
Francis Fukuyama, the renowned political commentator, futurist and author was joined by Lord Adair Turner, Chairman of the Institute of New Economic Thinking and former head of the UK Financial Services Authority. They provided a global context to the day’s discussions, examining the impact of the new US administration on the international stage, analysing economic indicators in key global economies and the future prospects for growth. Highlights of the first day of the event also included a keynote interview with Jean Lemierre, Chairman of BNP Paribas, who spoke on the importance of the GCC and Bahrain to the bank’s overall strategy.
The traditional highlight of the conference was the open ‘Town Hall Discussion’ with Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Bahrain’s Central Bank Governor. He spoke about the outlook for Bahrain’s economy and financial sector and answered questions from the audience on Bahrain’s currency and exchange-rate policy, Bahrain’s approach to catalysing innovation in non-oil businesses and the development of the banking sector, among many other topics.
Atif Abdulmalik, CEO of Arcapita said: “The high-calibre and diverse line-up of speakers from Bahrain and from overseas made for some very thought-provoking and constructive discussions. The forum provided an excellent opportunity for key decision-makers in the regional and international financial markets to come together for open and honest debate and to discuss tangible solutions for tackling the key challenges that we face in the region.”
Day two examined how innovation in financial services can provide solutions to the GCC’s financing challenges. In particular the role of fintech and innovative financing platforms was discussed with presentations from Rita Liu, Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Alipay and Marcus Treacher, Global Head of Strategic Accounts at Ripple. The conference closed with a lively debate on the fast evolving fintech landscape and what this means for banks, retail payment providers and technology firms.
Key recommendations will be published from the conference and available on the conference website: www.euromoneyconferences.com/bahrain while video footage from the forum is available on http://www.euromoneyconferences.com/bahrain-Videos.html