On Sunday 19th November 2017, HE the Minister of Finance, Mr. Mohammed Al-Jadaan, opened the second scientific research conference for Islamic banking and finance, organized by KFUPM and with the participation of a number of Islamic finance researchers from international universities, to raise the level of research through theoretical and applied studies on the economics of Islamic finance.
The Minister of Finance affirmed the qualitative shift of the Kingdom through Vision 2030. He pointed out the comprehensive financial and economic reforms implemented by the government through the realization of the Vision, including the Financial Balancing Program and the Financial Sector Development Program. He added that this program aims to raise the contribution of the financial sector in the national economy by enabling banks and financial institutions to meet the needs of economic sectors, and by building an attractive and advanced financial market for investment. These economic reforms will raise the efficiency of spending, diversify sources of government revenues, support the non-oil revenue base, and continue to control the fiscal situation.
He added that, by the end of 2015, the Government, represented by the Ministry of Finance, has established the Public Debt Management Office as a national transformation initiative. He pointed out that the most important work done by the Office was to establish two “Sukuk” programs linked to the Government's strategy to finance the budget deficit and to develop the debt instruments market in the Kingdom. One of these two programs is international, and is known under the name of "International Sukuk Issuance Program." The International “Sukuks”-with a value of SR 9 billion- and on behalf of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, were issued in US dollars for the first time, for 5 and 10 years. In addition, three issuances were launched for 5, 7 and 10 years with a value of 17 billion, 13 billion and 7 billion riyals, respectively. These sovereign issuances are being regularized and their maturity duration extended to create a benchmark for the market, and to be a reference for financial institutions and companies in pricing their issues. The domestic debt market is in the process of being developed. Data on the public debt instruments, including “Sukuk”, has been registered at the Tadawul Securities Depository Center.
He pointed to the lack of practical Islamic research of international quality, the need to increase research and innovation activity, and the need for provision of Shariah-compliant financial tools to serve the Islamic financial industry.
For his part, HE the Rector of King Fahd University of Petroleum & Mineral, Dr. Khalid S. Al Sultan said that the conference represents an important step in enhancing the global status of Islamic finance, which has witnessed a major development in a short period of time, making the interest in this industry important and urgent. The organizing of this conference by KFUPM provides a platform for success, and drives the Islamic finance industry to new heights of progress. The University also has distinguished experiences and much potential in Islamic finance, as represented by the Islamic, Financial and Economic Studies Departments. In addition, KFUPM has established the Center of Research Excellence for Islamic Banking & Finance, which will help to develop Islamic banking and finance and achieve the sustainable development of Islamic banking. It is hoped that this conference and similar events will be a step towards achieving the objectives of the Center.
Mr. Ali Mashhour Al Qahtani, Head of Shariah Affairs at SABB, said: "The establishment of such a conference and the interaction it got from public and private sector institutions is evidence of the interest in developing and supporting the Islamic finance industry. The Saudi British Bank is keen to sponsor this conference as part of its efforts to support the progress and development of the Islamic finance industry”.
The Vice Rector for Graduate Studies and Scientific Research, and Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Conference, Dr. Sahel N. Abduljauwad, said the conference, organized by the College of Industrial Management and the Center of Research Excellence for Islamic Banking and Finance at KFUPM, will discuss 14 scientific papers selected from 145 papers presented to the conference from different universities worldwide; 40 of them are PhD theses from students in different universities around the world.