Bahrain EDB, CBB Host “FS Horizons: Doubling Down on Finance” inaugural event

Manama The Bahrain Economic Development Board (Bahrain EDB), in collaborative efforts with the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), hosted the inaugural exclusive event titled “FS Horizons: Doubling Down on Finance” today at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay. Designed to encourage relevant discussions and foster increased knowledge exchange to further bolster the positive growth trajectory of Bahrain’s financial services sector as a pivotal contributor to the national economy, the event gathered over 100 key stakeholders, government representatives, and C-suite executives from various firms and financial services industry players across Bahrain.

The event kicked off with a keynote speech delivered by Noor bint Ali Alkhulaif, the Minister of Sustainable Development and Chief Executive of Bahrain EDB, which highlighted the importance of channeling the collective efforts of the public and private sector to promote the growth of the financial services sector and the national economy at large.

This was followed by a
fireside chat with Khalid Humaidan, the Governor of the CBB, who shared the key priorities and goals to secure a brighter future for Bahrain’s financial sector.

The governor outlined the sectoral plans for 2024 to 2026, underscoring the importance of encouraging the growth of the sector to drive in more leading financial institutions and firms, thereby creating more job opportunities, stressing the urgency of continuing to digitise processes, and consistently elevating the national workforce with niche skills to foster a future ready talent pool that bridges the gap in the sector.

Noor bint Ali Alkhulaif, the Minister of Sustainable Development and Chief Executive of Bahrain EDB, said, “Bahrain’s legacy as a centre of trade, investment, and regional hub of finance has given rise to a progressive and financially liberal business environment that has served as a solid foundation to achieving our economic success today”.

The minister added, “While the financial services sector has overtaken oil as the largest
contributor to real GDP, a testament to a successful economic diversification journey, Bahrain is not resting on its laurels. Leveraging on our strengths as a nation, moving forward, we are committed to doubling down on our efforts to drive increased investments into the financial services sector, to maintain a positive trajectory of economic diversification and growth, in line with the priorities of the Economic Recovery Plan, cementing Bahrain’s standing as a competitive international player”.

The event featured a series of insightful panel discussions, with the first diving into the ever-changing nature of the today’s digital payments landscape, which focused on the latest developments, trends, and challenges within the space globally and their impact on Bahrain’s financial landscape.

The second panel titled “The Next Wave of SupTech Innovation”, explored outcome-based regulation as well as global best practices in supervisory and regulatory technology, addressing how technology adoption is changing the
conversation between regulators and the financial services sector, particularly in Bahrain.

Khalid Humaidan, the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, stated, “Today provides the perfect platform to enable us to function as a collective force, as we continue to work closely with our stakeholders and turn towards the industry itself to gain real-time, honest insights into where to direct our efforts as Team Bahrain, to enact pioneering regulatory reforms to maintain an attractive business-friendly ecosystem and drive investment into this pivotal sector.

Our strategic focus on stimulating the sector’s growth, enhancing processes through robust digital transformation efforts to boost innovation, all while reskilling Bahrain’s talent pool, will be pivotal drivers to achieving our goals”.

The closing panel provided an in-depth overview and future outlook of the sector, bringing together executive members of the CBB, Ministry of Finance and National Economy, and Bahrain EDB, to provide key updates on the prog
ress of the Financial Services Sector Development Strategy 2022-26 in line with Bahrain’s Economic Vision. The panellists additionally discussed priority areas for the coming two years and the expected performance of Bahrain’s economy against a regional and global comparison.

Bahrain’s financial services sector has shown remarkable progress, being the Middle East’s most established financial centre with a diversified portfolio of local, regional and international financial services institutions. The sector, comprising 365 financial institutions and employing nearly 14,300 people, contributed 17.8% to GDP in 2023, with a year-on-year growth of 2.4%. In 2023, the sector also attracted record foreign direct investment (FDI) flows worth BHD 10.7 billion, accounting for 65.8% of total FDI inflows, marking an impressive increase of 33.4% from 2022.

Source: Bahrain News Agency