More than 70 heads of Middle Eastern financial institutions, senior public sector officials and, leaders of financial services firms from Europe and the United States, today concluded the 11th annual meeting of Middle Eastern and North African Bank Chief Executives hosted by the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) in association with the Institute of International Finance (IIF). The conference was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Dubai, and President of the DIFC.
His Excellency Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the DIFC said, “This region has proved its resilience to uncertainty and volatility in the credit and financial markets of the US and Europe. We have been relatively unaffected by the recent crisis in America's sub-prime mortgage market, which has affected investor confidence and resulted in a global downturn of share prices and the threat of inducing recession in the G7 with transmission effects to emerging markets. The region’s resilience and positive prospects built on sound macroeconomic conditions has encouraged institutional investors, both local and international, to turn to our region for greater liquidity and portfolio diversification.”
A key theme on the agenda of the meeting was the possible impact on the Middle East’s economy of the slow-down in the United States economy. Speaking to the conference on Saturday evening, Dr. Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Institute of International Finance's Board of Directors and Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee of Deutsche Bank AG, stressed that, “The Gulf Co-operation Council region is in the midst of a boom, underpinned by sustained high oil prices, with the economic drivers going beyond oil as private confidence and investment are now at an all time high. As such, even if the U.S. were to slip into recession, and oil prices were to dip, we believe the impact would be greatly mitigated by the significant number of major infrastructure projects that are already underway or are being pursued throughout the GCC. These will provide momentum for robust development in a number of sectors, including energy and petrochemicals, real estate, trade and finance, and tourism, for several years to come.”
The DIFC is the world's fastest-growing financial centre and is home to more than 550 companies, including many of the world's leading financial firms.. The IIF is the leading global association of financial services institutions with more than 370 members in over 60 countries. Mr. Nasser Al Shaali, CEO of the DIFC noted, “Recently, MENA has achieved above trend economic growth rates sustained by an average real GDP growth of 6.2% over 2004-2007 versus 3.7% in 1998-2002. In addition, the growth resurgence has been investment led with increased infrastructure investment leading to an increase in absorptive capacity and an increase in productivity growth.
This growth in productivity and investment can be seen, amongst other places, perhaps most notably in the U.A.E, and in Dubai in particular. Through the Dubai International Financial Centre, or DIFC, Dubai now has a rapidly growing international financial centre that is driving the success of the Emirate and the financial services industry across the entire region.”
IIF Managing Director Charles Dallara, pointed out that, “The candid exchanges of views in our meeting underscore the theme of cross-border partnership between financial institutions that we can expect to accelerate in coming years and that can strengthen the pace of modernization and development of finance in the Middle East. It is noteworthy that strong expressed by senior officials from the region’s regulatory authorities in facilitating this process of modernization. I expect that the IIF together with the DIFC and with other leading financial institutions here, will be playing a rising role in the future as a source of professional development training, as an impartial analyst of economic developments, as a prime source of advice on regulatory issues, and as a convener of leadership conferences, such as the one we have just held.”
Several of the sessions in the CEO meeting considered critical economic developments in the GCC. On this subject, Mr. George T. Abed, Special Advisor to the IIF Managing Director, and Director of the IIF’s Africa & Middle East Department, emphasized the following keypoints “While the oil sector will remain the principal driver of the economies of the region, , there are also important drivers towards diversification, especially in the larger, more populated countries. In addition, countries in the region are generating financial surpluses that are being invested for the benefit of future generations when the oil economies no longer play much of a crucial role and begin to be depleted”
Speakers at the conference included: H.E. Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Dr. Josef Ackermann, H.E.Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, Governor of the Central Bank of the U.A.E.; Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, Vice Governor, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency; Mr. Ibrahim Dabdoub, Chief Executive Officer, National Bank of Kuwait and a member of the IIF Board of Directors; Mr. George T. Abed, IIF, Mr. Ian Cronshaw, Head of Energy Diversification Division, International Energy Agency; Mr.Mohammad Al-Omar, General Manager, Kuwait Finance House; Dr. Nasser Saidi, Chief Economist, DIFC; Mr. Abhijit Choudhury, Senior General Manager and Chief Risk Officer, National Bank of Abu Dhabi; Mr. Benoit Duthu, Partner, Egon Zehnder International; Mr. Malcolm Walker, Senior Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank; Mr. John Howland Jackson, Chief Executive Officer UK and Middle East, ING; Mr. Charles Bouloux, President, AIG-Memsa ; Mr. Martin Skancke, Director General Asset Management Department, Ministry of Finance, Norway; Mr. Azmat Taufique, Managing Director, Investcorp; Mr. Phil Suttle, IIF Director, Global Macroeconomic Analysis.
About the Institute Of International Finance (IIF)
The IIF, established in 1982 and headquartered in Washington DC, USA, is the leading global association of financial services firms with more than 370 financial institutions as members, including over 80 from the Middle East and North Africa. The IIF’s Board of Directors includes the chief executives of leading banks, for example, Ibrahim S. Dabdoub, Chief Executive Officer, National Bank of Kuwait, and S.A.K. Hassan El Sayed Abdalla, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Arab African International Bank.
The IIF is a lead convener of major meetings of chief executive officers and chief risk officers, together with finance ministers and central bank officials, from Arab countries. Its leadership is based in part on its unique networking strength for its members and its expertise on bank regulatory issues, but also because of its economic research on the economies of the Arab countries.
The Chairman of the IIF’s Board of Directors is Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank AG. The First Vice Chairman of the IIF Board is William R. Rhodes, Senior Vice Chairman of Citigroup and Chairman, President and CEO of Citibank. The IIF has two Vice Chairmen, Robert E. Setúbal, President and CEO of Banco Itaú S.A., and Francisco González, Chairman and CEO of BBVA. The IIF’s Treasurer is Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman of the Board of SEB. The Managing Director of the IIF is Mr. Charles Dallara.
The Institute of International Finance’s Main Activities are to:
Provide high-quality, timely, and impartial analysis and research to our members on emerging markets and other central issues in global finance.
Systematically identify, analyze, and shape regulatory, financial, and economic policy issues of relevance to our members globally or regionally.
Develop and advance representative views and constructive proposals that influence the public debate on particular policy proposals, including those of multilateral agencies, and broad themes of common interest to participants in global financial markets.
Work with policymakers, regulators, and multilateral organizations to strengthen the efficiency, transparency, stability and competitiveness of the global financial system, with an emphasis on voluntary market-based approaches to crisis prevention and management.
Promote the development of sound financial systems, with an emphasis on emerging markets.
Provide a network for members to exchange views and offer opportunities for effective dialogue among policymakers, regulators, and private sector financial institutions.
Define, articulate, and disseminate best practices and industry standards in such areas as risk management and analysis, disclosure, corporate governance and regulatory compliance.
Support education and training efforts of our members in priority areas.
About the DIFC:
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is an onshore hub for global finance. It bridges the time gap between the financial centres of Hong Kong and London and services a region with the largest untapped emerging market for financial services.
In just three years, over 500 firms have registered at the DIFC. They operate in an open environment complemented with world-class regulations and standards. The DIFC offers its member institutions incentives such as 100 per cent foreign ownership, zero tax on income and profits and no restrictions on foreign exchange. In addition their business benefits from modern infrastructure, operational support and business continuity facilities of uncompromisingly high standards.
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