MANAMA: Financial organisations from Bermuda and Luxembourg will be making their first appearance at this year's World Islamic Banking Conference.
And there will be a return of representation from Singapore as well as a strong turnout from Malaysia.
"This year's event will be at least as strong as last year's with forums being hosted by both the UK and, for the first time, France, reflecting the growing importance of Islamic finance in Europe," said event organiser David McLean.
"We have yet again received massive international support for this event which shows that Bahrain remains the global centre of Islamic finance and the turnout reflects the importance of the event even at a time of some local problems and a crisis in the European markets.
"That is a reflection of the role of Bahrain as the global hub for this industry.
"Indeed the success of Bahrain's recent $750 million sukuk issue against a background of very difficult global market conditions and its ability to raise this at a reasonable price in the current economic climate emphasises the fact that Bahrain is very much back in business," he added.
He said that one of the key issues that would be debated at the conference was the need to increase scale in the Islamic finance industry.
"That is a huge challenge for the industry. We do not have global giants like Standard Chartered and HSBC but we need to move forward in terms of scale so that we can have proper cross border Islamic finance with standardised regulation.
"Governments across the industry, led by Bahrain are working on this," he added.
Rating agencies were well represented at the pre-conference workshops yesterday.
There were three presentations from the rating agencies, one each from the Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA), Malaysia Rating Corporation Berhad (MARC) and JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company Limited (JCR-VIS) of Pakistan.
IIRA introduced its latest offering under the name of Fiduciary Ratings at a workshop that attracted more then 200 delegates.
The first rating to be conducted under this methodology was that of Burj Bank Limited in Pakistan, in McLeanwhich Islamic Corporation for Development of the Private Sector has a significant shareholding.
Rather than adapting conventional thinking to accommodate Islamic finance, the methodology rethinks the risks in Islamic institutions, and is centred on the belief that in an Islamic finance institution (IFI) the quality of business being done is as important as the manner in which it is being done.
As a result, a comprehensive system, integrating the principles of governance and the ability of an institution to safeguard the investment of its key stakeholders, has emerged with a special focus on Sharia governance.
At the same time the methodology covers the ability of the institution to meet liabilities, simultaneously catering to all types of investors and all needs of any stakeholder in an IFI.