The GCC Financial Forum

Euromoney returned to Manama on 24-25 February for the fourth annual GCC Financial Forum, co-hosted by the Bahrain Economic Development Board.

The conference attracted an extremely diverse and international audience of financiers, investors, policymakers and business leaders from 22 countries across the GCC region, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North America, for two days of debate and discussion on the growth and development of industry and financial services in the GCC and on Bahrain in particular, as a hub for financial integration in the region.

The conference began with a thought-provoking keynote address, entitled, The Coming Collapse of the Monetary System, from internationally renowned author, commentator and chief strategist at West Shore Funds, James Rickards. During his speech, Mr Rickards explored sources of instability in the international monetary system, the interplay between global capital markets and geopolitics, the dynamics of U.S. Federal Reserve Board dollar policy, as well as discussing the implications and options for the GCC.

Mr Rickards’ address set the scene for the panels and discussions which followed, which focused on the Bahrain’s place in the wider regional and global environment.

Euromoney was honoured to welcome H.E. Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain to the conference, who took part in an interactive ‘town hall’ style debate in front of a packed audience, keen to put their questions to the Governor. His Excellency spoke about how the bank is positioned to navigate inherent risk in the financial system and answered questions from the floor on banks’ compensation and remuneration policies, the challenges presented by the regulatory system, the threat of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, and the role of industry associations.

Highlights of the first day of the conference also included keynote interviews with Abdulkarim Bucheery, chief executive of BBK, Abdul Razak Al Qassim, chief executive officer of National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) and Dr Ahmed Al-Mutawa, chairman of GFH.

Our audience also enjoyed hearing from Carlos St James, chairman of the Middle-East Americas Energy Council (MEAMEC), Mahmood Hashim Al Kooheji, chief executive officer of Mumtalakat and Shaikh Khalifa Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, chief executive officer of Bahrain Bourse and Shaikh Mohamed K. Al-Khalifa, chief executive of Nogaholding.

The impact of oil price volatility was a recurring theme and common thread throughout the panel discussions, interviews and speeches over the course of the two days. A panel of energy experts joined our Energy Industry Strategy panel, held in association with Petroleum Economist, to discuss the implications of falling oil prices on Bahrain and on the wider GCC region, as well as to debate the outlook for supply and demand in the year to come. Panellists on the closing session discussed investor appetite for energy projects in the region and the role of ECAs in the financing of such projects, as well as a debated whether renewable energy sources have the potential to compete with hydrocarbons, or whether subsidies are necessary.

Euromoney would like to thank our sponsors, speakers and delegates for making this year’s GCC Financial Forum such a success. We look forward to returning to Bahrain and to welcoming you back to the Forum again in 2016.


Tue 24 - Wed 25 Feb 2015