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Islamic finance is deeply rooted in the Middle East, a region which continues to shape the modern Islamic finance industry globally. Commanding the lion share of global Islamic banking and finance assets and wielding enormous influence in the industry, the Middle East has always been an integral part of IFN.
Covering the region since 2004 and organizing industry-leading conferences in the Middle East since 2008, IFN will return to the region in 2021 with a new brand in tow: IFN Middle East, a culmination of the various localized and global Islamic finance events under the IFN umbrella, with a specific yet wide-ranging regional focus.
IFN Middle East will gather industry thought leaders and mover shakers from across the region to discuss and identify the sector’s most pressing issues as well as emerging opportunities. From latest innovations, to rising trends and hurdles, IFN Middle East will trace the evolution of the Islamic finance sector in the region through the lens of market practitioners and experts.
Omar Mustafa Ansari is working at AAOIFI — a global Islamic finance standard-setter — as its secretary-general. Previously, he was a partner (assurance) and head of Islamic finance (Pakistan and Afghanistan) at Ernst & Young (EY) Ford Rhodes Sidat Hyder — a member firm of EY. He is a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP).
At AAOIFI, Omar is responsible primarily for leading the process of development of accounting, auditing, governance and ethics standards for the global Islamic finance industry, besides managing the overall affairs of the institution as the organization’s head.
Omar’s key areas of expertise include assurance and advisory services to Islamic financial institutions, including Islamic accounting advisory, audits, Shariah audits, corporate finance advisory, structuring of Shariah compliant transactions, accountancy and financial reporting, Islamic finance training, financial modeling, risk management and development and review of manuals and systems.
Omar is a member (ex-chairman) of ICAP’s committee responsible for development of Islamic financial accounting standards for Pakistan and also a member of the insurance committee leading the accounting regulations development for Takaful.
Anita Yadav is a seasoned investment specialist and research scholar with over 20 years of experience in financial markets spread across Asia, Australia, India and the Middle East. She is skilled in debt capital markets, sovereign and corporate debt analysis, Islamic finance, credit risk, market risk, investments, lending, trading and fund management.
Anita founded the Global Credit Advisory in 2020. Prior to this, Anita was the head of fixed income research at Emirates NBD, a bank owned by the Dubai government and one of the largest in the region. In the recent past, Anita led projects such as advising the Abu Dhabi government’s Debt Management Office on the Sukuk outlook, the Sharjah government’s investment forum on attracting foreign direct investment in the region, the white paper on development of local currency capital markets for the Central Bank of the UAE and presenting at IIF Saudi G20 on emerging market government debt, among others.
Beginning her professional life as an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in Sydney, Anita’s career has included serving as the managing director and head of global markets at Nomura in India, as the head of credit sales at ANZ in Singapore and as the head of research at UBS in Sydney. She has a proven track record of establishing new businesses across cultural and geographically varied markets with a history of delivering on profit targets of up to US$350 million and managing a team size of 257 staff.
Anita Wieja-Caruba is an associate director at the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and has been with the company for close to eight years. During this time, as part of its Strategy, Policy and Risk Division, she has been instrumental in implementing various international standards in the Dubai International Financial Centre, including the Financial Stability Board (FSB) Recovery and Resolution Framework and the Basel III reforms. She also works on subjects such as benchmark reforms, client assets protection, equivalence with EU rules, sustainable finance, insolvency law, derivatives and netting and compliance framework.
Prior to joining the DFSA, Anita worked at the European Commission as an advisor to Commissioner Michel Barnier on a package of financial reforms following the global financial crisis. She also worked as part of the commission’s DG FISMA technical team on financial market infrastructures, derivatives reforms and securities financing transactions such as repo and securities lending, including representing the commission on the FSB Working Group on Shadow Banking.
Anita qualified as a finance lawyer in the City of London (King & Wood Mallesons, ex SJ Berwin), following which she worked at BNP Paribas CIB advising on various aspects of the bank’s structured finance transactions. She holds degrees from BPP Law School (UK), University of Cambridge (UK), College of Europe (Belgium) and University of Silesia (Poland).
Asal Saghari is a counsel of King & Spalding’s Corporate, Finance and Investments practice. She has extensive experience in banking and finance, with a particular focus on advising sponsors, lenders and borrowers in connection with their lending and investment activities in Europe and Middle East structured on a Shariah compliant basis.
Asal moved to the King & Spalding Dubai office in April 2017 to be closer to her Middle East client base while using her extensive outbound legal and market expertise to create and implement Shariah compliant structures. Her practice is unique as her client base has remained consistent over the past decade in terms of Middle Eastern investors. Having been based in the UK and Germany has provided her with a deep legal and market knowledge of outbound European Shariah compliant structures which is unmatched.
Since her move to the Dubai office, Asal has continued to observe the market closely to respond to her clients’ needs for innovative structures dealing with challenges that face them.
Dermot O’Reilly joined ARX Financial Engineering in July 2021 as the head of ethical finance. He is an Irish and English qualified lawyer and holder of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Diploma in Islamic Finance and the CIMA Advanced Diploma in Islamic Finance. After several years in private practice in Dublin, he moved to Dubai in 2013 to work as a Shariah expert in Amanie Advisors as a Shariah consultant in various areas of Islamic finance. His clients included international banks, fund managers, government-related entities, Takaful companies, family offices and fully-fledged Islamic banks.
After Amanie, Dermot moved to an in-house role with Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (CACIB) in 2016 as its global Shariah governance officer where he was responsible for providing Shariah advisory, Shariah review, Shariah audit, Shariah training and Shariah secretariat services to CACIB with respect to its Islamic finance business. In addition, he assisted its Shariah supervisory board in successfully managing its Shariah compliance risk.
Dr Hurriyah El Islamy is currently serving as an executive board member of Badan Pengelola Keuangan Haji, an independent sovereign agency empowered by law to manage the Indonesian Hajj pilgrim funds. She was named as one of the most active Islamic finance activists by Bank Indonesia and has global experience in Islamic finance having served as the director for CIMB Group responsible for all Islamic businesses of the group. She was also the director of Capinnova Investment Bank, an Islamic investment arm of the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait after she served Kuwait Finance House Bahrain leading the Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering Department there while (also) serving as the legal counsel.
Dr Hurriyah remains active in the Islamic finance industry as she is the advisor in Islamic finance to the Astana International Finance Centre, a board member and strategic advisor to Islamic Fintech Alliance and is also listed as an IMF expert in Islamic finance and capital markets. She has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree, a Master’s degree in corporate law and a PhD.
Ijlal Ahmed Alvi has extensive experience in the financial services industry with regional and international financial institutions spanning more than three decades in the areas of treasury, capital markets, strategic planning and Islamic finance standardization.
For the last 16-plus years, as CEO of the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM), he has overseen the development and publication of global Shariah compliant financial documentation and product confirmation standards as well as related guidelines for the Islamic financial services industry.
Ijlal has been influential in the IIFM’s collaborative efforts by signing MoUs with various international development bodies, multilateral entities and trade associations. Some of these collaborations have resulted in the publication of a number of joint global standards.
In addition to his responsibilities as CEO, secretary to the board and spokesperson of the IIFM, Ijlal also manages the IIFM’s market consultation exercise, global working groups coordination and legal documentation drafting process as well as being actively involved in the IIFM Shariah Board’s guidance and approval process for IIFM standards.
Ijlal also manages the IIFM’s market awareness seminars, briefing sessions, workshops, consultation meetings as well as publication of consultation papers, white papers and the IIFM’s flagship annual Sukuk Report.
Ikbal Daredia has over 35 years of experience in Islamic banking. Prior to joining the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, he was the senior executive director (capital markets and treasury) of Ibdar Bank. He was also the global head of investment banking in Bank Alkhair. He has held the positions of acting group CEO of Bank Alkhair and CEO of its Malaysian subsidiary Alkhair International Islamic Bank. Prior to that, he was deputy CEO of Noriba, UBS’s former global Islamic platform for Shariah compliant products and services. Prior to Noriba, Ikbal worked for four years with ABN Amro Bank in Bahrain as the global head of Islamic financial services.
Ikbal has originated and executed several Islamically structured cross-border transactions for sovereign entities and corporates in Turkey, the GCC countries, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and the UK.
In 2007, Ikbal led the distribution efforts for two Sukuk with a total value of US$1.6 billion issued on behalf of a prominent Saudi corporate. He was also the Noriba project leader for the first-ever US$750 million exchangeable Sukuk for Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional and the US$350 million first internationally rated corporate Sukuk issuance for Sarawak Corporate Sukuk (Malaysia), which was jointly led by UBS Investment Bank and Noriba in 2004. Prior to this, in 2001, he worked on the Sukuk issuance of Malaysia’s Kumpulan Guthrie.
Ikbal is an associate of the Chartered Banker Institute in England.
Issam Al Tawari is currently the managing partner of Newbury Economic Consulting focusing on debt capital market advisory and restructuring. He was the founder/chairman and managing director of Rasameel Structured Finance Company, a capital market-focused investment company supervised by the Capital Markets Authority/Central Bank of Kuwait and chairman of Rasameel Investment Bank, a Dubai-based, Dubai International Financial Centre-regulated bank. His latest area of interest is the development of Islamic debt capital markets.
Issam started his career with Arab Banking Corporation (ABC)-Bahrain on the commercial banking side. He then worked extensively on corporate finance issues with ABC’s Islamic bank to become associate director. He joined The International Investor (TII), Kuwait in 1998 on the structured finance side. His last position at TII was COO and a partner with the structured finance group.
Issam has served on the board of directors of a number of companies and funds and currently serves as an independent director with Alkhabeer Capital out of Jeddah. He constantly speaks at Islamic banking industry conferences, seminars and in media commentaries.
Issam was a member of the Young Arab Leaders Association and the Kuwaiti Economic Society. In addition, he is an alumnus of both the Harvard Business School and Henley Management College and received his MBA from the University of Hull (Dist.) in England in 1998 and his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and business administration from Kuwait University in 1987.
Jessica Robinson is a global expert in sustainable finance, advising financial institutions, institutional investors, think tanks, governments, regulators and companies on a broad range of issues relating to green finance; environmental, social and governance; and sustainable and responsible investment; as well as climate, carbon and gender finance. She is also the founder and managing director of Moxie Future – the world’s first insights, education and community platform empowering women as responsible, sustainable and impact investors.
In previous roles, Jessica was the head of Asia for the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, following a long stint as the chief executive and board director of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia, one of Asia’s leading think tanks working to promote sustainable finance and responsible investment across the region. She also led Asia Investor Group on Climate Change and played an active leadership role in the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance and the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change. As well as strategic advisory work, she has also run a global carbon finance company and worked with financial regulators in developing sustainable finance frameworks and policy.
Jessica has an extensive background in professional services and business consulting, focusing on financial services, environmental finance and sustainability industries. She frequently contributes articles, authors reports and speaks at conferences on issues including green financing, financial market developments, climate finance policy, broader sustainable finance issues as well as gender. She recently published a book on sustainable investing titled ‘Financial Feminism: A Woman’s Guide To Investing For a Sustainable Future’.
Jessica has lived and worked in the UK, North America, Asia (China and Hong Kong) and is now based in the UAE. She holds a Master of Science degree in applied environmental economics from the University of London, a Master of Science degree in politics from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Manchester in the UK.
Lawrence Oliver is a director of DDCAP and its subsidiaries DD&Co and DDGI. He is also a director of DDCAP (DIFC).
Lawrence has worked in the Islamic finance market for more than 25 years. He joined DDCAP in April 1998. Previously, he was an assistant manager at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and a member of the team responsible for Islamic finance and investment activity.
Lawrence has principal responsibility for the company’s business development and trading desks and has extensive experience of arranging asset-based transactions that conform to Shariah stipulation.
Lawrence focuses specifically on Shariah compliant structured finance and asset origination and has broad knowledge of the physical commodity sector which has enabled him to evolve the traditional merchant trading capabilities of DD&Co for the benefit of institutional clients operating within the Islamic financial sector.
Lawrence is a regular speaker at many of the annual Islamic conferences held in the GCC, Southeast Asia and Europe.
Maya Marissa Malek is the managing director/CEO of Amanie Advisors’s global office, based in Dubai. Maya is a multiple award-winning Islamic finance expert and executive leader (also recognized as one of the ‘Top 50 Most Influential Women in Middle East Finance’ by Financial News UK of Dow Jones Group) with extensive experience driving strategic planning and collaboration with key industry players — including regulators, corporates, banks and standard-setting bodies.
Maya skillfully bridges efforts of diverse regulatory and structural groups — identifying and targeting performance/operations gaps — and is equipped with a history of success working closely with globally-renowned Shariah scholars while creating awareness of Islamic finance worldwide. Her profession in and passion for Islamic finance has taken her around the globe creating awareness on Islamic finance, and innovating and creating demand for Islamic finance to take root. She is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals, a member of the Green Sukuk Working Group in the UAE and a Shariah consultant for the International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group and a frequent Islamic finance speaker at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in the UK, the world’s most influential think tank.
Mohamad El Khalil joined the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) in 2008. He currently heads the DFSA’s prudential supervision team overseeing prudential risks across all the financial institutions operating in and from the Dubai International Financial Centre, with a special focus on banking and insurance institutions, including the regional hubs of many of the global systematically important banks and global systematically important insurers. Throughout his career at the DFSA, Mohamad has played a key role in developing some of the DFSA’s policies and regulations, and in shaping the DFSA’s supervisory framework.
Mohamad has 20 years of experience in the banking and financial services industry. Prior to joining the DFSA, Mohamad held senior positions at Byblos Bank Lebanon, Lebanon’s Banking Control Commission and Arab Finance Corporation.
Mohamad holds a Master’s degree in finance from Saint-Joseph University in Beirut, executive education certificates from the Cambridge Judge Business School and the Wharton School, in addition to a number of professional certificates.
Dr Mohamed Damak is a senior director within financial services at S&P Global Ratings. He covers financial institutions in the Middle East and Africa region. Dr Mohamed is also the global head of Islamic finance within S&P Global Ratings, leading a global team of Islamic finance analysts.
Before re-joining S&P Global Ratings, Dr Mohamed worked as a principal credit risk officer for the African Development Bank in Tunis. From 2006 to 2010, Dr Mohamed worked for S&P Global Ratings covering conventional and Islamic financial institutions in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Dr Mohammed Alyami has almost 20 years of experience in different sectors with the most in evaluation and development impact. Currently, Dr Mohammed is the director of the Development Effectiveness Department at the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector of the IsDB Group. He worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School in 2017–2018 in Cambridge in the US.
Dr Mohammed holds a PhD in evaluation from Western Michigan University (WMU) with an emphasis on evaluation standards and program evaluation. He holds two Master’s degrees, one in marketing management (2002) from the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the other in human resources development (2008) from WMU. In 1999, he completed his Bachelor’s degree studies in business administration at King Saud University in Riyadh. His research interests are development effectiveness, impact evaluation and evaluation standards.
As a serial entrepreneur, Paula has a place in the World Business Angels Forum (WBAF) Global Startup Committee in addition to representing WBAF in the UAE — WBAF as an organization aims to ease access to finance and know-how for businesses from start-up to scale-up. In 2018, Paula co-founded a UAE/Saudi Arabia fintech start-up in the Shariah capital market space, seeking to lead the industry initiative of standardization and automation. Prior to entering the fintech space, she had structured both conventional and Islamic cross-asset instruments in a top-tier UAE bank, introducing innovation and exotic structures to the Shariah space. She has previous achievements in trading and research spread across MENA and frontier markets.
Paula holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in international finance from Istanbul, Turkey, a Master of Science degree in financial engineering with a concentration in automated trading systems from the US and is currently a PhD candidate in the derivatives field.
Qasim is a partner in the banking and finance practice and the head of the Middle East Islamic finance practice at Dentons. Based in Dubai since 2007, he has international Islamic finance, project finance and structured finance experience, including transactions in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. He has acted for regional, international and Islamic financiers as well as multilateral agencies and corporates.
Dr Rizwan Malik has over 10 years of experience in investment allocation, advisory, research, strategy and business development. Presently, he heads the standards implementation and strategic developments department at AAOIFI — a global Islamic finance standard-setter within the Islamic finance industry+. He is an associate editor of peer-reviewed technical bulletin Journal for Islamic Finance Accountancy and a member of the working group for a standard on investment funds at AAOIFI.
Dr Rizwan previously headed the Strategic Planning and Development Team at the Muscat National Development and Investment Company (ASAAS) based in Muscat, Oman — a semi-government institution set up by the sovereign wealth fund of Oman and a number of government pension funds to assist the government in diversifying its revenue streams. Prior to joining ASAAS, Dr Rizwan was the head of business development and strategy at Edbiz Consulting in London for six years, where he advised banks and financial institutions and regulatory and multilateral institutions and led various Islamic finance advisory and research-related projects globally.
Dr Rizwan is a member of the working groups for a new standard titled ‘Core Principles for Islamic Finance Regulation’ at the IFSB as well as ‘Islamic Finance National Accounts’ — a joint-initiative of the IMF and the UN. He has contributed to various conferences and events around the world and has written book chapters and articles in international publications. Dr Rizwan holds a Bachelor’s degree from Heriot-Watt University, a Master of Science degree in banking and finance and a PhD from Kingston University London. His post-doctoral research focused on Islamic capital markets with an exclusive focus on equity investments.
Dr Scott Levy is CEO of Bedford Row Capital (BRC), a non-bank originator giving businesses a fast, effective and cost-efficient way to access critical finance through debt capital markets. Dr Scott founded the firm four and a half years ago, bringing together a management team with decades of experience in structured finance that has since executed more than 70 transactions in Sukuk, liquidity management, high-yield and green bonds — fulfilling businesses’ diverse financing needs and giving investors access to yield.
Based between London and Estonia, Dr Scott has over 25 years in financial services and 18 years in Islamic finance, structuring, capital markets infrastructure, asset-backed securities, securitization, debt capital markets and asset management. He leads BRC’s global offering underpinned by integrity, innovation and insight across the firm’s offices in London, Tallinn, Zurich, Singapore and Dubai.
Sohail Zubairi currently serves as the senior advisor with the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) which was established in 2013 under the supervision of Sheikh Hamdan Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai and the chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, to transform Dubai into the global capital of Islamic economy (www.iedcdubai.ae).
Sohail advises the DIEDC on all matters related to Islamic finance based on his expertise and contribution to the industry spanning over two decades. He is the former founding CEO of the international award-winning Dar Al Sharia Islamic Finance Consultancy, established by him in 2007 in Dubai as the subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank which he headed before joining the DIEDC.
Zubairi has four decades of rare combined conventional and Islamic banking experience at senior executive and CEO positions in the UAE. He has a professional educational background in both financial systems, ie conventional and Islamic. He has strong command over all facets of Islamic banking, the Islamic capital market and asset management. In his illustrious career, Zubairi also effectively headed the risk management functions in reputable conventional and Islamic banks. He has a transformational and result-oriented leadership style.
Zubairi regularly attends conferences and seminars on Islamic finance as a moderator and panelist besides holding workshops on the subject. He has authored scores of articles on Islamic finance and is currently contributing an educative column to the IFN weekly newsletter under the theme ‘Back to Basics’.
Sharjil Ahmed is a tech entrepreneur and spent the early part of his career as a seasoned investment banker. He is the co-founder of Cykube, a UK-headquartered blockchain and fintech advisory and solutions provider. He is working on promoting fintech and blockchain solutions in the areas of finance, government, healthcare, Shariah compliant investments, Halal economy, sustainable development goals and financial inclusion.
Sharjil gained training and certification from Oxford University in fintech and blockchain post-completing his MBA degree in international business from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK. Sharjil is also an industry associate at University College London, Centre for Blockchain Technologies. He has 15 years of experience in Islamic investment banking and has been involved as a founding team member of BLME, Al Rayan (Islamic Bank of Britain), Dux Capital and Dubai International Financial Centre, to name a few.
Sharjil is one of the early starters in the UK Islamic finance scene and worked with the UK government to make London the leading western hub for Islamic finance. For this, he has worked closely with UK government bodies like UK Trade & Investment, HM Treasury and the Lord Mayor’s trade delegations, including writing a report on the history of Islamic finance in the UK commissioned by the UK government Islamic finance task force. He is an alumnus of the International Visitors Leadership Programme on special invitation from the US State Department representing the UK.
Stephen Knight is a banking and finance partner in Dentons’s Abu Dhabi office, having worked in Abu Dhabi since 2008. He has experience advising grantors, sponsors/borrowers and lenders on a wide range of finance transactions and regularly advises on both finance documents (conventional and Islamic) and commercial contracts. He has particular expertise in the infrastructure/build–operate–transfer/public–private partnership transactions (especially in the healthcare, education and retail, leisure and hospitality sectors) and also advises on power (renewable and thermal) and water financings. Stephen advises on English law and UAE law transactions.
Tayyaba Rasheed is the head of the Investment Banking Group at Faysal Bank. She is highly qualified with more than 18 years of diversified corporate and investment banking experience, and a proven successful career in investment banking, corporate banking and corporate finance with profound skills in structured financing, infrastructure advisory, capital markets and Islamic finance. She has got diversified experience and has an in-depth understanding of infrastructure finance and capital markets. She has worked in senior positions at CIBG NBP and Bank Alfalah where she started her career as a management trainee officer.
Tayyaba holds an MBA from IBA and is a CFA and FRM charterholder. She also holds a JAIBP qualification from the Institute of Bankers Pakistan. She successfully completed NIBAF certification and underwent a thorough Islamic finance training program. She is a certified independent director and is currently serving as an independent director on the boards of four listed companies in Pakistan representing diverse economic sectors.
Vineeta Tan is the Managing Editor of Islamic Finance news (IFN), the world’s leading Islamic finance news provider, and IFN Fintech, the industry’s first news service dedicated to fintech for Islamic finance. A multimedia journalist with a decade of experience in the journalism and publishing industry working independently and leading a team, Vineeta specializes in ethical and Islamic finance as well as fintech reporting and analysis, covering regions including the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe. As Managing Editor of IFN, she is responsible for the editorial direction and business development of IFN and its sister publications in addition to authoring reports, producing podcasts and conducting video interviews. She has interviewed senior industry players, key stakeholders and senior dignitaries including the finance/economic ministers of Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, among others. Vineeta is a regular in the international conference circuit as both a moderator and speaker. Trained in journalism and sociology, Vineeta holds an Islamic Finance Qualification awarded by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investments in the UK.
Zaineb Sefiani is the founder of Carrera Learning, an innovative e-learning platform. Zaineb is also a lecturer at University Paris Dauphine and at the University of Dubai. Preceding her current roles, she worked as a consultant at the African Development Bank, where she carried out research on the African stock exchanges as well as led an Islamic finance strategic workshop for regulators, policymakers and central banks of Kenya, Mauritius, Senegal, Sudan and Tunisia.
Zaineb was also commissioned by the Ethiopian government to conduct a policy and strategy analysis on interest-free banking. In 2010, she worked for Morningstar Europe in London and was responsible for Morningstar’s Islamic mutual funds. Prior to that, she was a client relationship manager at the Shariah advisory arm of BMB Group, a multi-family office.
Zaineb holds a Master’s degree in investments from the University of Birmingham. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing and participated in an exchange program at Boston College in the US during her undergraduate studies. Zaineb was twice included in the list of ‘Top 100 Leading Women in Islamic Business and Finance’.
Zalina Shamsudin is currently the general manager for Capital Markets Malaysia, an affiliate of the Securities Commission Malaysia, mandated with promoting Malaysia’s capital market both domestically and internationally. Zalina joined Capital Markets Malaysia in June 2014 as the head of strategy and business development. She has over 20 years of experience, predominantly in corporate advisory, and has worked in five countries in different regions of Asia, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Her key skills are in analyzing and identifying solutions for long-term growth and sustainability.
Zalina returned to Malaysia in 2011 and joined InvestKL, a promotional agency for Malaysia’s capital and largest city Kuala Lumpur, as the head of advisory and research. She holds an MBA in finance from CASS Business School in the UK and is a fellow of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants.
Omar Mustafa Ansari, Secretary General, Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI)
The Islamic Economy: Improving Livelihoods and Creating Prosperity
With GCC countries looking to kickstart economic recovery through commercial activity, stimulus and technology, it is time for the Islamic economy, and all its components, to show its true mettle. Have we truly grasped the importance of the Halal economy to the prosperity of regional economies, as well as to the continued growth of Islamic financial institutions? What role will regional Islamic financial institutions play in meeting the challenges of the real economy through mobilizing the funding and liquidity support necessary to stimulate the vital SME and corporate sectors? How is financial technology playing a role in regional development and the enhancement of financial inclusion in GCC countries? And through socially impactful strategies, how can Islamic financial institutions inspire and support entrepreneurship, thereby creating jobs and improving livelihoods? We seek the views of a distinguished panel.
Qasim Aslam, Partner, Dentons
Dr Hurriyah El Islamy, Executive Board Member, Badan Pengelola Keuangan Haji (BPKH)
Ikbal Daredia, Advisor to CEO, Acting Director – Global Markets and Fixed Income (GMFI) and Acting Director – Treasury, The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector
Mohamad El Khalil, Director, Head of Prudential Supervision, Dubai Financial Services Authority
Sohail Zubairi, Senior Advisor – Islamic Finance, Department of Economic Development (Dubai Economy)
Funding Opportunities and Growth: GCC Islamic Corporate Finance and Capital Markets
What do GCC credit markets look like in the coming 12 months, what are the options for potential corporate, sovereign and supranational issuers? How influential are oil prices on regional Islamic capital markets? What are investors demanding in terms of pricing, tenor, rating, structure, as well as other factors such as ESG? What do the major GCC centres offer as listing destinations for Sukuk issuance, as well as other products such as investment trusts and ETFs? How can Shariah compliant instruments, including Sukuk, be further applied to the funding of alternative asset classes in the region? How is technology such as blockchain shaping and influencing Islamic corporate finance and capital markets, considering notable recent innovations by GCC Islamic banks? Finally, how can global and regional regulation and standards applicable to the issue of Shariah compliant financing products, be more effectively aligned for the good of the market?
Anita Yadav, CEO, Global Credit Advisory
Asal Saghari, Counsel, King & Spalding
Dr Issam Al Tawari, Founder and Managing Partner, Newbury Consulting
Dr Mohamed Damak, Senior Director, Global Head of Islamic Finance, S&P Global Ratings
Scott Levy, CEO, Bedford Row Capital
Green, Transition and Sustainability-Linked Finance and Investment – Shariah Compliant Options
Alongside ‘Transition to Net Zero’ and decarbonisation targets, what is realistically achievable and what does net zero mean for important sectors in the GCC such as aviation, oil and gas and other asset-based industries? How are Shariah compliant financing products and assets playing a role in this shift and what do green Sukuk offer in relation to transition and sustainability-linked initiatives? How can the financing of Shariah compliant assets continue to contribute to the achievement of the UN SDGs and towards the Paris Accord? Where and how do ESG investing and Shariah compliant investing complement each other, and how can we further leverage this important linkage? We ask an expert panel.
Jessica Robinson, Founder and Managing Director, Moxie Future
Dermot O’Reilly, Head of Ethical Finance, ARX Financial Engineering
Maya Marissa Malek, CEO, Amanie Advisors
Tayyaba Rasheed, Head Investment Banking Group, Faysal Bank
Zalina Shamsudin, General Manager, Capital Markets Malaysia
Operational Issues Facing Islamic Financial Institutions in the Gulf
Through a respected panel we address two current, important operational issues affecting Islamic financial institutions and financial products in the Gulf. Firstly, we discuss reform of global benchmarks, the transition to risk-free rates and the implications for Islamic financial products. Secondly, we examine the development of liquidity management tools – repurchase agreements and their Shariah compliant equivalents – and how they offer value to regional Islamic financial institutions.
Stephen Knight, Partner, Dentons
Anita Wieja-Caruba, Associate Director, Strategy, Policy and Risk, Dubai Financial Services Authority
Ijlal Ahmed Alvi, CEO, International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM)
Rizwan Malik, Head – Standards Implementation and Strategic Developments, Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI)
The Evolution of GCC Islamic Financial Technology - Digital Assets, Crowdfunding and Digitization
With the GCC boasting 51 Shariah compliant fintech providers on the IFN Fintech Landscape, what is a realistic assessment of the sector across multiple verticals? With noteworthy developments in equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending in the GCC, what’s next in the evolution of these important activities? How do ECF and P2P address and reduce funding gaps, particularly in the SME sector, and how can they be further harnessed to fund regional entrepreneurial activity? What is the role and success rate of tech accelerator programs in regional centers, and what else can be done to provide vital seed and growth capital for regional Islamic fintechs? With the first Bitcoin fund being listed on NASDAQ Dubai, what is the future of crypto investing in the GCC and how are regional institutional investors and family offices approaching crypto and fintech investment? Lastly, how are GCC Islamic banks leading the drive towards full digitization and how are end consumers set to benefit?
Vineeta Tan, Managing Editor, Islamic Finance news
Lawrence Oliver, Deputy CEO, DDCAP
Dr Mohammed Alyami, Director, Development Effectiveness Department, The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector
Paula Tavangar, Co-Founder and Investment Director, Genesis Capital LATAM
Sharjil Ahmed, Co-Founder and CEO, Cykube
Zaineb Sefiani, Founder, Carrera Learning