At A key financial forum in London, the Banking on Bahrain conference focussed on the kingdom as the location of choice for international firms and financial institutions wishing to do business in the Middle East region.
High profile speakers at the event were led by Mr. Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA), the central bank of Bahrain and single regulator of the country’s financial services industry, and Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Bahrain.
Discussions focused on Bahrain as an economic success story and as the best known and most highly regarded financial centre in the region; innovative developments in banking, particularly the growing international acceptance of Islamic finance; opportunities and challenges; and the regulatory environment for financial services.
“As a mature and well-diversified financial centre with a track record that spans several decades, Bahrain stands out as the region’s foremost platform for accessing the vast investment opportunities and financial services sector growth taking place in the region,” said Mr. Al Maraj.
Mr. Al Maraj pointed to a key assessment of Bahrain’s financial system, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which confirms the soundness of the country’s financial system and observance of financial sector standards and codes.
The report on the Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP), undertaken by Bahrain in 2005, notes that despite competition from other financial centres, “Bahrain will maintain its attractiveness as a platform for financial institutions”.
The Kingdom’s advantages, the report notes, are its geographical location; its reputation for being well-regulated; the innovations it has undertaken in developing all forms of Islamic finance and establishing institutions to promote the deepening of Islamic financial markets; the availability of a well-qualified workforce of nationals and expatriates; and reasonable operating costs.
“We are greatly encouraged by the positive assessment from the IMF and will continue to strengthen Bahrain’s status as a financial centre of repute,” said Mr. Al Maraj.