Governor discusses challenges and opportunities for Dubai as a global financial centre at FT/DIFC World Financial Centres Summit



His Excellency Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), today debated key issues, including Dubai’s long-term sustainability, on the first day of the FT/DIFC World Financial Centres Summit.

The Financial Times and DIFC gathered senior financial sector executives, corporate decision-makers and regulatory and government officials, including some of the biggest names in international finance, to discuss key issues affecting the world’s financial centres.

The summit, taking place over one and a half days, is the cornerstone of this year’s DIFCweek, underlining the progress made by the DIFC, backed by its financial services authority and fully regulated capital market, towards its goal of becoming a global financial hub on a par with New York, London and Hong Kong. This is the first FT/DIFC World Financial Centres Summit, with the second due to take place in London next year.

Chaired and moderated by Hilary Bowker, former CNN anchor, this unique summit featured an in-depth question and answer session with Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, followed by a series of panel discussions.

Welcoming participants to the event, John Ridding, Chief Executive of the Financial Times, said that the FT/DIFC World Financial Centres Summit was occurring at a significant moment. “Our timing is good,” he stated. “The sub-prime crisis has created upheaval, forcing us to re-examine the forces at work and the policies that regulate them.” Beyond timing, he said, location is important. “Dubai is inspirational,” he said, “and is quickly becoming a leading global financial hub.”

During the morning session, the Governor discussed issues such as: maintaining the pace of Dubai’s growth; the impact of the sub prime crisis on the Middle East; diversification of the regional economy; collaboration and competition between financial centres; the regional pool of superabundant liquidity; the transparency of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs); and attracting and developing human capital.

Responding to questions from Hilary Bowker and the audience, Dr. Bin Sulaiman commented on the challenges for Dubai and the region: “There are two main challenges: political stability of the region; and human resources, in terms of attracting, retaining and growing our own talent. We need to provide the best opportunities and continue innovation to attract the best people.”

On Dubai, Dr. Bin Sulaiman commented: “Diversification was a necessity for our growth and sustainability. We moved away from oil towards trade, tourism, financial services, and cluster economies, such as media, technology and healthcare. We should not underestimate the importance of these clusters.”

Talking about cooperation and competition between financial centres, the Governor said: “Due to the current growth in regions such as the Middle East and Asia, all financial centres will become more significant. However, there will be a distinction between local, regional and global centres – there will be maybe 4 or 5 global centres, and then a number of regional and local centres to serve the immense growth and development. The flow of liquidity, investment and best practices will ease the flow of business overall.”

Following the opening session with the Governor, a series of panels throughout the day covered issues such as the challenges faced by today’s global financial centres, increased competition and consolidation. These were examined by a panel including Ronald Arculli, Chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited andHenry Azzam, CEO for MENA at Deutsche Bank.

The impact of alternative financing, such as private equity and hedge funds was analysed by, amongst others, Hajir Naghdy, Executive Director of the Investment Banking Group at Macquarie Capital and Charles Roxburgh, Director at McKinsey & Company.

A panel featuring Andrew Spindler, President & CEO of the Financial Services Volunteer Corps looked at the markets as facilitators of change, followed by another panel discussion on emerging financial centres and the need for knowledge economies, debated by experts including Kim Kihwan, Chairman of the Seoul Financial Forum and Stuart Pearce, CEO and Director General of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.

The summit concluded with a gala dinner featuring a speech by David Eldon, Chairman of the DIFC Authority.

For further information on the FT/DIFC World Financial Centres Summit and DIFCweek, please visit: www.difcweek.ae

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