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Critical issues of global, regional finance, economy top IIF meet agenda

MUSCAT, 14 April 2012 – Leaders of banking and financial institutions in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries are converging in Oman on 16-17 April as BankMuscat hosts the Institute of International Finance's (IIF) 15th annual meeting of MENA bank chief executives at Shangri La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa.

Critical issues of global, regional finance and economy will lead the agenda at the meeting which will also highlight international financial market conditions, emerging market investment prospects, new developments in banking regulation and banking practices. 

Charles Dallara, Managing Director of IIF, said: “IIF is most appreciative of the support extended by AbdulRazak Ali Issa and BankMuscat to host the 15th annual meeting of MENA bank chief executives. The conference will discuss the global economic outlook, which is far from satisfactory. The latest IIF forecasts suggest that growth in the mature industrial economies this year is likely to be about the same as in 2011 at just 1.2 per cent while growth in the emerging market economies is likely to average around 5.5 per cent, which is only marginally above the 5 per cent seen last year. The surge in oil prices since the start of this year adds uncertainty to the overall picture."

AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive, BankMuscat, said, “We are honoured to join the IIF in hosting this important conference against the backdrop of unprecedented changes in the geopolitical and economic world order. The MENA region is in the thick of these developments. At the heart of economic development, the financial system and capital markets have witnessed progress in the MENA region in recent years. As the real engines of growth and development in each country, MENA banks can play an active role in financing and facilitating development projects in order to promote stability in communities and societies."

AbdulRazak added: “The IIF forum serves as the right place to strengthen and expand relations among banking and financial institutions in MENA countries. We are especially honoured that we have a line-up of esteemed keynote speakers. Moreover, we are grateful that the IIF's Managing Director, Charles Dallara, who recently played a leadership role in the restructuring of Greece's sovereign debt is leading the IIF's executive team at the meeting and will be discussing the lessons we can draw from the euro sovereign debt crisis."

George Abed, Senior Counsellor and IIF Director for Africa and the Middle East, said: “Oil prices have remained high in recent weeks at around $125 per barrel (pb) on the back of rising geo-political risks. The fundamentals of supply and demand are in balance suggesting a possible decline to around $115 pb by June this year. We expect global crude demand to average around 90 million b/d in 2012, or about 1 per cent over 2011. On the supply side, OPEC is currently producing at a 3-year high. Output continues to rebound in Libya, Iraq sees further increases, and Saudi Arabia has boosted its supply to meet demand by all clients. Together, we believe these increases are sufficient to offset declines in Iran's exports."

Keynote speakers at the event include His Excellency Yahya bin Said Al Jabri, Chairman of Special Economic Zone Authority, Duqum, and His Excellency Eng. Khalifa bin Mubarak al Hinai, Adviser at the Ministry of Oil and Gas.  Discussions on prospects for oil and commodities will be featured in a keynote speech by Ed Morse, Managing Director, Global Head of Commodity Research, CitiGroup Capital Markets.

In a session on global and regional prospects, speakers include Hung Tran, Deputy Managing Director and Counsellor, IIF, and George T Abed, Senior Counsellor and Director for Africa and Middle East, IIF.

An important session of the conference will look at key regional banking issues, chaired by Abdulkareem Abu Alnasr, Board Member & CEO, National Commercial Bank. A session on international financial centers will be chaired by Ibrahim Dabdoub, Group CEO, National Bank of Kuwait and member of the IIF Board of Directors. A discussion on investing in emerging markets will be led by Hassan El Sayed Abdalla, CEO, Arab African International Bank.

Global economic issues on focus at the conference include challenges in dealing with Europe's sovereign debt difficulties; slowing pace of growth in emerging markets and recent geo-political risks raising oil prices, as leading banking executives, experts and distinguished senior public officials from the MENA region and beyond seek ways to find sustainable growth opportunities.

IIF is a global association of financial institutions and has more than 450 members in nearly 70 countries currently. IIF includes the world's largest commercial and investment banks as well as a growing number of insurance companies and investment management firms, making it an influential voice in international financial affairs. The MENA CEO event is IIF's highest-level gathering of financial leaders and policy makers in the region.