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Monday, 2 July 2007

Bahrain-based Waqf Fund expands its activities to develop Islamic finance training

A Bahrain-based special fund to support Islamic finance education and training is expanding and accelerating its activities to prepare professionals for the fast-growing Islamic financial services industry. The Waqf Fund, established in 2006 with an initial seed capital of US$4.6 million by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) in partnership with several Islamic financial institutions (IFIs), plans to undertake a broad range of activities, all aimed at furthering Islamic finance training and education. The new work programme will include public awareness programmes, roundtable discussions and Shari'a programmes, in addition to financing professional and academic studies of individuals working in the Islamic finance industry. The new action plan for the Waqf Fund was discussed and approved at a meeting of the Fund's Board of Trustees. The meeting, held on 28 June 2007, was chaired by Mr. Khalid Hamad, Executive Director, Banking Supervision, at the CBB, who is also Chairman of the Waqf Fund. It was attended by senior representatives of the founding member banks. 'The Board discussed the enhancement of cooperation with the Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance (BIBF), the Fund administrator,' said Mr. Hamad, following the meeting. 'It was decided that the Fund should take a more proactive role in developing Islamic finance training and education programmes offered by BIBF's Islamic Finance Studies Learning Centre.' Specifically, the Fund will expand its focus on the core development of a range of programmes needed to advance the Islamic finance industry. The Fund will also seek out prestigious international organisations, which could partner with the BIBF in delivering training programmes. 'The Board of Trustees is cognizant of the need for enhancing the Fund's activities to address the growing need for qualified Islamic finance professionals,' said Mr. Hamad. 'With a rejuvenated work programme, we hope to achieve a fair measure of success in the coming years.' The establishment of the Fund was a major milestone in the long term advancement of the Islamic finance industry, he pointed out. It is also in keeping with CBB's holistic approach to the industry's development, which includes availability of qualified human resources. Besides the CBB, the other founding members of the Waqf Fund are Unicorn Investment Bank, Bahrain Islamic Bank, Kuwait Finance House (Bahrain), AlBaraka Banking Group, Arcapita Bank, ABC Islamic Bank, Shamil Bank and Gulf Finance House. - (AME Info, 2 June 2007)

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