The Global Islamic Finance Conference, which is due in Kuwait on November 11, will be a step towards the promotion of Kuwait's position as a global financial hub, the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) said on Saturday. Co-hosted by the CBK and IMF and held under the title: "Meeting Global Aspirations", the conference will attract a host of international decision-makers, experts and economists, it said in a press release.
Sponsored by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the gathering is part of the CBK's efforts activities towards the development of Kuwait as a financial hub where a group of monetary and financial elites across the world can come together in order to set out a vision for the sustained growth of the Islamic finance sector.
The significance of the conference stems from the large world presence, especially the participation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is the world's leading economic institution, in addition to the attendance of finance ministers and central bank governors from several countries, it said.
The conferees will mainly discuss Islamic finance which has only recently been on the agenda of world countries, and has become part of their economic activities, the CBK added.
Globally, the assets intermediated by the Islamic finance sector reached an estimated US$ 2.0 trillion currently, and further growth is expected. Although still a small share of global financial assets, its banking segment has become systemic in a dozen countries, with implications for macroeconomic and financial stability.
Islamic finance has the potential for further contributing in at least three dimensions. First, it promises to foster greater financial inclusion, especially of large underserved Muslim populations. Second, its emphasis on asset-backed financing and risk-sharing feature means that it could provide support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), as well as investment in public infrastructure.
Finally, its risk-sharing features and prohibition of speculation suggest that Islamic finance may, in principle, pose less systemic risk than conventional finance. For this potential to be realized, however, and to allow this industry to develop in a safe and sound manner, a number of challenges will need to be addressed.
The conference will provide an opportunity for a global policy dialogue among high-level policymakers, including governors of central banks and ministers, regulators, conventional and Islamic standard setters, leading private and public sector financial institutions' executives, and academics, for drawing a vision for the sustained growth of Islamic finance industry, and provide a platform for continued work in this area, according to the release.
The one-day conference is designed to encourage broad interaction among delegates. It will comprise four sessions. Besides the plenary session (with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and the Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait), three other sessions will explore issues centered round increasing financial inclusion and growth through access to finance; regulation and supervision to foster stability, and developing Sukuk and other long-term Islamic financing for sustainable development. The panel discussions will be conducted as a conversation among panelists, it added.