Leading players, industry thought leaders and key regulators in the regional Islamic finance and investment industry will take part in the 2nd Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference (MEIFIC 2012), which will be held on the 18th of April 2012 in Dusit Thani, Dubai. Co-located with the 7th Annual World Takaful Conference (WTC 2012), MEIFIC 2012 is set to gather more than 250 regional and international delegates representing over 120 leading organizations. Speaking to the media ahead of the event, David McLean, Chief Executive of the Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference, said that “there are significant growth opportunities still to be tapped in the Middle East region for the Islamic finance industry. The Ernst & Young World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2011/12, which was launched at the 18th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2012) in Bahrain last November, noted that in the GCC the market share of Islamic banking had crossed the all important 25% threshold - which means that Islamic banks are now making successful competitive inroads into the conventional market space as well. Given the positive economic outlook, the Middle East, which is witnessing an increasing appetite for Shari\'ah-compliant financing and investment alternatives across a broad range of corporate, wholesale and consumer segments, is yet to fully realize the potential of its Islamic finance and investments industry.” MEIFIC 2012 will be officially inaugurated by a special keynote opening session featuring Hussain AlQemzi; Chief Executive Officer, Noor Islamic Bank, Group Chief Executive Officer, Noor Investment Group; and Dr. Saleh Malaikah; Chairman, Rusd International Holding Group, Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Salama Group. The session will seek to chart a new growth map for the Islamic banking industry in the Middle East. Speaking ahead of his session, Dr. Saleh Malaikah noted that “the Middle East has played a pioneering role in the development of the Islamic finance industry. With the increasing interest in Shari’ah-compliant finance solutions in key countries across the world, the Middle East is well positioned to continue its role as a central driver of the development of the industry. Currently, there is tremendous international interest in Middle Eastern economies and abundant capital circulating in the region. Tapping into this opportunity requires a strategic approach both at the macro and micro level. Industry gatherings such as the Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference (MEIFIC) play a vital role in facilitating dialogues that focus on tapping the emerging opportunities for Islamic finance in the region and I am once again delighted to be a part of it.” The inaugural session will be immediately followed by a high-profile industry leaders’ power-debate. The session featuring Moinuddin Malim, Chief Executive Officer, Mashreq Al Islami; Oscar Silva, Chief Executive Officer, Global Banking Corporation B.S.C. (c) (GBCORP); and Geert Bossuyt, Chief Executive Officer, Dar Al Istithmar will discuss the key steps that industry players must take in order to achieve a sustainable growth trajectory for Islamic banking in the Middle East and further strengthen the regional and international connectivity of Islamic finance. Confirming his participation in the event, Geert Bossuyt, Chief Executive Officer, Dar Al Istithmar said that “the Middle East region is viewed as one of the more mature markets for Islamic finance, and indeed a number of GCC banks are now seeking growth beyond their own borders, looking for opportunities across the Middle East and emerging markets. However critical issues such as lack of regulatory standardization and limited availability of attractive investment avenues resulting in the risk of asset concentration are hampering this growth. There is a real benefit to be had from coordinating efforts and strengthening the regional and international connectivity in Islamic finance. The Islamic finance industry in the Middle East has certainly achieved a lot in the last few years, but it still has a long way to go to realize its full potential.” “The annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference serves as an opportune platform for the regional industry leaders to converge and outline the future growth map for the Islamic banking and investments industry”, he added. More than 250 senior decision-makers representing over 120 leading regional and international institutions will attend the 2nd Annual Middle East Islamic Finance and Investment Conference in Dubai on the 18th of April 2012.