Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) successfully held the 16th annual Islamic banking and finance conference in the Kingdom of Bahrain on 1-2 December 2021 under the patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain. The conference was also aired live on Zoom and other social media platforms and was attended by more than 700 attendees. The theme of the conference was “Solidifying the Foundations of Islamic Finance for Post-COVID World through Development of Robust Standards and Regulatory Frameworks”
The two-day AAOIFI flagship conference was held physically, with the required Covid-19 protocols, after a hiatus of one year due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Last year the event was held virtually. The conference is considered as an important and influential gathering of the Islamic finance industry with the participation from central bankers, Shari’ah scholars, policymakers, and decision-makers, and numerous other industry stakeholders to deliberate and discuss critical topics in the Islamic finance industry globally.
On the occasion, H.E. Shaikh Ebrahim Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Chairman, AAOIFI Board of Trustees, stated: “I would like to thank the government of Bahrain for handling the COVID-19 pandemic in such an effective manner. It is through their efforts and measures that we can sit together in a conference room again” and expressed his appreciation to both physical and virtual attendees of the conference, as well as the speakers who joined us physically and virtually. His Excellency added that technology, open-banking system, and changing consumer behavior and expectations would be the core areas of focus moving forward for the industry.
Dr. Sami Al-Swailem, the Acting Director General of the Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDB Institute), expressed his satisfaction on the successful holding of the physical event, and said, “We at the Group are proud of our productive and fruitful relationship with AAOIFI and other major standard-setting organizations of the Islamic finance industry. We greatly commend their vital endeavors to guide the industry and bring it to world-class standards. He further added that “The COVID crisis made it clear that we cannot keep doing what we used to do in the pre-COVID world and expect results pertinent to the very different world of the post-COVID age. We need to break the old barriers and venture into the new era with open minds and brave hearts.”
The conference had keynote speeches, H. E. Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor, Central Bank of Bahrain; Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director General, Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDBI), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; H.E. Prof. Ahmed A. Al-Melhem, Chairman and Managing Director, Capital Markets Authority, Kuwait; Dr. Sugeng, Deputy Governor of Bank Indonesia and a special by Mr. Simon Gray, Regional Advisor, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In addition, the conference was also graced by more than 45 speakers in seven session with discussions on key topics such as, the need for a comprehensive Shari’ah Governance Framework (SGF) – Key issues and solutions; Impact of Maqasid Al Shari’ah and Ethics on the governance process; Islamic finance windows: challenges in governance and financial reporting; Strategies for recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic; IBOR transition and the alternative benchmark for IFIs; Accounting for Takaful and industry developments; Zakah, its importance and the developments in the industry.
The event also witnessed signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) of AAOIFI with two regulatory institutions, Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Central Bank of Philippines for greater collaboration and cooperation in various areas, to further develop the Islamic finance industry in their respective jurisdictions.
Mr. Omar Mustafa Ansari, Secretary General, AAOIFI also expressed his gratitude to the attendees, and distinguished speakers of the conference, especially who have travelled to Bahrain to attend the conference, and said, “It is an occasion of immense satisfaction to hold this conference physically after a gap of one year. Despite the pandemic, AAOIFI has been able to continue its mandated activities with minimal disruption. I am thankful to the AAOIFI Secretariat and our stakeholders, including technical board members, working group members all the professionals who support AAOIFI’s cause, without whose support we would not have been where we are”. The Secretary General also thanked the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Islamic Development Bank Group for their unstinted support and cooperation.