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The seventh edition of the GCC Financial Forum kicked off at the Four Seasons on Tuesday amidst great anticipation.

Co-hosted by Euromoney Conferences and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the event was inaugurated by Euromoney Institutional Investor chairperson David Pritchard with a welcome speech on behalf of his organization.

The GCC Financial Forum is one of the most important events for the member states as it provides a platform for policymakers and business heads across the region to get together and discuss the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for future economic collaborations.

This year, more than 700 government officials, business leaders, and financial experts from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Asia, and Europe have assembled in Manama to set the agenda for greater international collaborations, as well as other burning issues with a global footprint.

The opening session this year was delivered by Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz, Mohamed A. El-Erian, who touched upon various key topics including the current state of the economy, geopolitical issues, and the consequences of growing digitization in the realm of financial services.

Renowned economist and former Governor of the Bank of England, Lord Mervyn King, also gave an interview at the event during which he discussed the historical transformation in the global banking sector.

Apart from that, Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) also participated in his usual interactive town-hall session during which he spoke at length about the unique traits of the Kingdom’s banking system and the potential of the country’s ever-expanding FinTech sector.

“What we have to keep in mind is that FinTech solutions have the potential to optimise cost structures by cutting out the middleman,” said the CBB Governor.

He added: “We encourage all Bahraini financial institutions to take the leap and embrace the new technologies. The Central Bank of Bahrain is committed to not only keep up with the changes but enable them for the benefit of our local economy and our people.”