Over 600 delegates from 24 countries attend 6th annual GCC Financial Forum
KUWAIT CITY, March 26: The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and Euromoney hosted 600 attendees — the biggest crowd to date — at the GCC Financial Forum. Senior government officials, regulators and economists joined local and international financiers and business leaders in Manama for two days of high level discussions and networking. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB, who opened the conference, said: ‘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.
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 HE Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Bahrain’s Central Bank Governor. His Excellency spoke about the outlook for Bahrain’s economy and financial sector and answered questions from the audience on Bahrain’s currency and exchangerate 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.