World Insurance Forum to be held for first time in Dubai

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the world’s fastest growing financial centre, today announced that it will be hosting the World Insurance Forum (WIF), which for the first time will be held outside Bermuda.


Samir Abdulahad, Deputy General Manager, ADNIC, Goerge Oommen, Executive Director, Insurance & Re-Insurance, DIFC, Suzie Pewter, Event Manager, World Insurance Forum and President, The Whitfield Group, Hana Al Herz, Director Insurance & Re-Insurance, DIFC and Marc Slatter, Managing Director, Willis.
Left to right: Samir Abdulahad, Deputy General Manager, ADNIC, Goerge Oommen, Executive Director, Insurance & Re-Insurance, DIFC, Suzie Pewter, Event Manager, World Insurance Forum and President, The Whitfield Group, Hana Al Herz, Director Insurance & Re-Insurance, DIFC and Marc Slatter, Managing Director, Willis.
For the past fifteen years, this event has taken place in Bermuda, which has emerged as a leading global insurance hub, and arguably the most important reinsurance domicile in the world. However, this year, to reflect the city’s growing status as a centre for international business, trade and finance, the World Insurance Forum will be hosted in Dubai.With its ideal location between East and West, and at the epicenter of a rapidly developing and prosperous region, Dubai offers attendees a chance to access a new and exciting market. Industry leaders and experts will be invited to come together in order to analyse and discuss the current market situation and upcoming challenges to be faced by the insurance sector. The event will also allow participants to learn more about the region, and to discover for themselves the extensive opportunities across the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Caspian Region.

Following the theme of the Forum, ‘Where West meets East…The New Frontier’, the first day of the agenda will focus on global macro issues, featuring world leader opinions on today’s evolving risks and challenges. The second day will look at industry micro issues, consisting of perspectives on selected industry matters. Day three will provide an insight into global and regional opportunities, offering views on business potential in markets across the East and West. The final day will then conclude the event with a tour of the DIFC, allowing delegates a chance to find out more about the Dubai market.

The Forum will feature an impressive line-up of regional and international speakers, including: His Excellency Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the DIFC; the Rt. Hon. Lord Patten of Barnes CH, Former Governor of Hong Kong; Yassir Albaharna, CEO of the Arab Insurance Group; Fareed Lutfi, President of Dubai Insurance Group; Jeremy Cox, Deputy CEO of the Bermuda Monetary Authority; and Bradley L. Kading, President & Executive Director of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers.

George Oommen, Executive Director – Insurance & Reinsurance at DIFC said:

‘Given the recent economic turbulence, volatility, and evident slow growth in the mature markets of Western Europe and North America, the world’s insurance and reinsurance companies are now looking beyond their traditional market boundaries. As an industry that has been identified as a crucial component of the future expansion of the DIFC, the region’s insurance and reinsurance sector including captives looks set to undergo a period of rapid growth. As we look to build on the solid foundations that have been laid for a truly prosperous insurance industry we are delighted to be hosting the World Insurance Forum, a prestigious event that will undoubtedly support and promote the ongoing development of the insurance sector, both regionally and globally.’

Michael A. Butt, Chairman, Advisory Board of the World Insurance Forum, commented: ‘Since the last meeting of the World Insurance Forum 20 months ago, our industry has undergone, yet again, transforming challenges. Complacency will never be endemic in our industry, we suffer too many shocks for it to become embedded. With catastrophe losses in 2005 likely to exceed insured losses of $80bn the industry has shown resilience and the ability to meet its obligations, even in extreme circumstances.’

‘The capital markets have also shown enthusiasm to reinvest in the sector, whether through lack of alternatives, or renewed hope that adequate R.O.E.’s might be achieved is a moot point that will doubtless be the subject of much discussion at this meeting. As the global reinsurance industry becomes ever more concentrated so the pressures between clients, insurers and reinsurers become more acute. Bermuda, which has now become the world’s single largest concentration of capital in our industry, is particularly pleased to act again as the forum for Thought Leaders to debate the current and longer term challenges.’ Micahel A. Butt Added.

The DIFC, as the region’s leading financial centre, will host the conference to reinforce its status as a globally recognized business hub and a catalyst for regional growth, development and diversification. Through the DIFC, Dubai has managed to attract many of the world’s leading financial institutions to operate from the Emirate.

Local and global insurance and reinsurance companies have now established themselves in Dubai as they look to be close to the regional market. Being based in the DIFC provides these companies with a platform in terms of gaining exposure to the region, but also receiving protection, which is guaranteed with the DIFC’s legal and regulatory framework, based on the international legal system including a commercial court.

Furthermore, the DIFC has in place the appropriate infrastructure and a vital ‘cluster effect’ which helps to support this sector. In order for captive insurance companies to operate efficiently, they need to have ‘service providers’ around the captive industry, such as auditors, law firms, actuaries etc, which can all be readily found in Dubai. The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), has introduced specific legislation relating to captives, whereby the DIFC recognises captive insurance companies, which the UAE and many other jurisdictions do not. This legislation, and in fact the entire legal system of the centre, which is based on the common law of the UK, has created a solid basis for the industry and has attracted a lot of business to the region.

The DIFC is also looking to develop the Islamic insurance and re-insurance sector, known as Takaful and Re-Takaful, which is becoming increasingly appealing both regionally and internationally. As the Shari’a compliant alternative to conventional insurance, the market for Takaful is making progress and looks set to continue this growth as more and more Islamic finance instruments become available. As a result, the DIFC is actively promoting and encouraging companies in the region to look at this market. The global Takaful market is expected to grow by some 15-20% per annum to reach $7.4bn in annual contributions by 2015. In the GCC, there are some 23 Takaful companies compared to 278 conventional insurance companies.

The World Insurance Forum will be held at the DIFC from 17th to 20th March 2008.


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