Beirut, 5 September 2007 (UN Information Services)-- UN-ESCWA Executive Secretary Bader Al-Dafa today said, “the distinguished role Islamic Financial institutions play to improve the economic welfare of our society makes them unique among other operating financial institutions.” Al-Dafa was speaking at the opening session of “The Regional Forum on the Role of Islamic Financial Institutions in Financing for Development” organized by UN-ESCWA in cooperation with the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) on 5-6 September 2007 at the Manama Ritz Carlton Hotel.
Having noted that the Islamic financial industry is expected to play a greater role in the social development of “our society particularly in the UN-ESCWA region,” he called upon Islamic financial institutions to have a wider co-operation between them and UN-ESCWA in order to enhance social development in our member countries. “Such co-operation can take the form of undertaking several social development technical assistance projects. These would include, but not be limited to, providing training for the youth, the real wealth of our society. This would contribute significantly to solving the unemployment problem and hence, reducing poverty in our region,” he said.
The UN official said the world body is paying special attention to achieving its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which call for the alleviation of poverty in the world by 50 percent by 2015. “This is a challenging task for many developing countries, including countries in the Arab world,” he noted. In this regard, Al-Dafa said that the UN in March 2002 held its First United Nations Financing for Development Conference in the city of Monterrey, Mexico. This Conference which was attended by 50 heads of States and 200 high level officials was concluded by what came to be known as the “Monterrey Consensus”, which identifies areas in which efforts are to be intensified in order to mobilize domestic and foreign financial resources for accelerating economic development.
The “The Regional Forum on the Role of Islamic Financial Institutions in Financing for Development” is intended to analyze the role of Islamic institutions in financing and mobilizing domestic resources for development. It will also be an opportunity for the heads of capital markets and executives of Islamic banks to evaluate their experiences and shed more light on this emerging and fast growing phenomenon.
The topics of the Forum focus on the role of Islamic financial institutions as stimulators of domestic savings; the role of Islamic financial institutions in development finance in developing countries and the instruments they use in project finance; the relationship and cooperation between Islamic financial institutions in the Arab countries and in South-East Asia; the relationship of Islamic banks with conventional banks; the future prospect and expansion of Islamic financial institutions in light of globalization and the repatriation of Arab investment funds to the Middle East and the sharp increase in oil revenues.
The “Regional Forum on the Role of Islamic Financial Institutions in Financing for Development” is taking place just before the regional preparatory meeting for UN-ESCWA member countries on the implementation of the “Monterrey Consensus” to be held during the first quarter of 2008. The latter will prepare UN-ESCWA member countries to the Mid-term review of the “Monterrey Consensus” scheduled for the third quarter of 2008 in Doha, Qatar. The final report and the recommendations of the Bahrain Forum will add value to the regional preparatory meeting.