The global Islamic finance and banking sector is pegged at US$1 trillion with an estimated growth rate that is four times higher than conventional financial services, according to organisers of the upcoming International Islamic Finance Conference 2012. In a news announcement the event management team at Emerald Insight suggested that the demand for the Sharia’a-managed industry is largely marketing driven with a noticeably high number of institutions entering the arena introducing new products to market. They noted that the sector is undergoing a dramatic change with its one-time easily identifiable early entrants of the 70’s increasingly joined by new dedicated players, alongside Sharia’a-specific, specially-branded product offerings from the general banking sector. A spokesperson for Emerald Insight, part of Emerald Publishing Group noted that recent estimates predict a year-on-year growth rate of 25 per cent, which would see the global industry valued at $5 trillion in 2016. They said that this indicates a need for an increased understanding of both the sector and the robust strategies needed to support such growth where the increased competition is in danger of blurring of lines between products and services. One of the region’s leading economists, Dr Henry Azzam is slated to open the conference at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Abu Dhabi in October this year. Dr Azzam, a financial services expert with more than thirty years regional experience, is currently adviser to Deutsche Bank AG and Chairman of the Board at NASDAQ Dubai. He will be joined by banking and investment specialists to consider the opportunities and challenges that face the sector, including its regulatory and supervisory set-up. He will kick-start the three-day event which will also make a special review of the impact of the recent political and socio-economic developments within the region and their likely impact on the global Islamic financial sector, including mutual funds, securities and derivatives, as well as regular banking services. Other speakers include Professor Fouad Beseiso, former Central Bank Governor and first Governor of the Palestinian Monetry Authority and Dr M. Kabir Hassan, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Faculty of Finance, University of New Orleans. The International Islamic Finance Conference 2012 will be held on October 14-16 2012 at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The event is organised by Emerald Insight founded in the UK in 1967 as an offshoot of the University of Bradford. Emerald Group Publishing is the world’s leading publisher of online and printed journals covering business and management topics. This specialisation ensures Emerald events attract an audience of high profile industry practitioners and academics who are well placed to address the challenges facing the sector.