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Euromoney conference to focus on sukuk, MENA infrastructure projects

Euromoney-Saudi Arabia conference 2014 to be held next month will focus on sukuk and examine its role in financing infrastructure projects in the Middle East as the Islamic bond could unlock financing for the region’s $1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects, according to Richard Banks, regional director, euromoney conferences.
Banks said on Saturday sukuk could unlock financing for the region’s $1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects as the Kingdom drives innovation in Islamic finance to support its development needs.
He added that the region is facing rapid population growth and urbanization, with the UN projecting that the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) urban population will increase by 36 percent from 36.4 million in 2010 to 49.4 million in 2025.
“In response, GCC states and other MENA countries like Iraq are investing $1 trillion in 117 major infrastructure projects across construction, utilities, transportation and logistics sectors, which are set to be completed by 2030,” Banks added.
The Kingdom, with GCC’s largest population and economy, has $375 billion worth of infrastructure projects in the pipeline, he said.
“To finance these massive projects, the Kingdom is increasingly turning to Shariah-compliant Islamic finance, such as sukuk, in part due to the lower levels of risk and more predictable rates of return,” he added.
According to Banks, the MENA region will need to raise significant funds to meet its infrastructure needs in the coming years and Islamic finance will play a key role in enabling governments to do this.
As a major issuer of sukuk and also a nation that is committed to infrastructure investment, the Kingdom is an ideal host for serious discussions on the role of Islamic finance in this area.
“We are bringing global experts together with senior executives with practical experience within the Kingdom to discuss the issues surrounding sukuk and examine the road ahead for projects and Islamic finance,” Banks stated.
Total global sukuk issued is set to grow from $130 billion in 2014 to $237 billion in 2018, he said, adding that the Kingdom issued $8.69 billion worth of sukuk in the first nine months of 2013.
Continuing to expand in its ninth year, the Euromoney-Saudi Arabia conference, being held on May 6-7 in Riyadh will be attended by around 1,200 delegates from all over the world, which will include financiers, investors and corporates working in and with the Kingdom, the conference organizers said in a statement said.
Important speakers who have confirmed participation include Ibrahim Al-Assaf, minister of finance; Muhammad Al-Jasser, minister of economy and planning; Shwaish Al-Dowaihy, minister of housing; Majid Al-Moneef, secretary general, Supreme Economic Council; Adel Al-Ghamdi, CEO, Tadawul (Saudi stock exchange); Saeed Al-Ghamdi, CEO, NCB; Mohamed Al-Mady, vice chairman and CEO, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC); Senator Philiip Ozouf, minister of treasury and resources, state of Jersey; Ambroise Fayolle, CEO, Agence France Tresor, the French government debt agency; Charles Dallara, executive vice chairman of the board and chairman of the Americas, Partners Group (USA); Salah Garawi, division head, corporate finance, Saudi Aramco; and Tarig Enaya, managing director, Cisco KSA.