Bahrain will host the 15th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) next month that will bring together international industry leaders who have contributed significantly to forging the future of this industry to map out the next phase of development.

David McLean, the Managing Director of MEGA, the owners of the WIBC brand told Khaleej Times on Friday that WIBC will be celebrating 15 years of success in bringing together the industry’s thought leaders and foremost practitioners to chart the future direction of the industry.

He said that it attracts more than 1,000 delegates from 45 countries and has grown to have 60 market leaders as sponsors.

Keynote speakers this year include Rasheed M. Al Maraj, the Governor of The Central Bank of Bahrain, and Heng Swee Keat, Governor of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

In addition, renowned author Toby Birch will provide insights into the current turmoil in the international financial markets which he foreshadowed in his book The Final Crash.

A barometer of recognising market leading initiatives and outstanding achievements in the global industry, the World Islamic Banking Conference features the Islamic Banker of the Year Award as one of the international industry’s most prestigious and high profile awards.

“The World Islamic Banking Conference plays an important role in the international development of the industry. WIBC also goes beyond the ‘conference basics’ of the right topics and speakers in order to find innovative new sources of value,” Mclean said.

“The launch of the ‘WIBC McKinsey Competitiveness Report’ has taken the conference format to new levels by creating powerful new research insights into the Islamic banking industry and has over the past 5 years become an indispensable reference resource for industry decision-makers.”

He continued that building on the phenomenal growth of WIBC and the Islamic banking industry in general, the eagerly anticipated 2008/09 WIBC McKinsey Competitiveness Report will again this year examine the growth and profitability trends in the Islamic banking sector and the leading players: The winners and the losers.

Complementing last year’s analysis of the performance of Islamic banks, this groundbreaking original research project will also pose critical questions on the size and attractiveness of the market and the key success factors in capturing the potential of Islamic banking. While developments in the international financial markets have negatively impacted a number of conventional banks, thus far Islamic banks appear to be better placed to weather the fall-out of the market turmoil, Mclean said.

“The growth in traditional markets of the GCC is undeniable, while Islamic finance is achieving increasingly significant market presence in Asia as well as making exciting headway in non-Islamic geographies such as Europe and North America.” He said that the launch of Euro WIBC in London during July 2008 was a huge success and tapped into the UK government’s plans to establish London as the key international centre for Islamic finance. “We’re currently working on a number of expansion opportunities with our key clients that will take our brands to new markets that offer exciting growth potential for Islamic finance.”