An Icon of Progress

by BTM

Sun, 12 May 2024

Shaikh Ebrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa

There are few more qualified businessmen in Bahrain than Shaikh Ebrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, who boasts three decades of diverse experience across various organisations and ministries. Bahrain This Month sat down with him to discuss various aspects of the Kingdom’s economy and financial future.

Holding roles such as Minister of Housing, Undersecretary Minister of Finance and Deputy Governor of the Bahrain Monetary Agency, which is now known as the Central Bank of Bahrain, Shaikh Ebrahim has been deeply involved in entrepreneurial ventures and developmental activities throughout his career. 

His main successes have been in the banking sector, chairing numerous financial institutions including Meezan Bank in Pakistan, where he served as a founding chairman. The bank stands as a leading institution, boasting over a thousand branches and currently holding the title of the most profitable institution in the country. 

Furthermore, he also chaired the Bahrain Development Bank, overseeing its transformation into a crucial player in fostering entrepreneurship. Through initiatives like building incubators dedicated to young entrepreneurs, it pioneered the Bahrain model, facilitating economic growth and innovation. Another significant endeavour was founding Ebdaa Bank, which nurtures young entrepreneurs and promotes financial inclusion. 

“Bahrain’s journey to becoming a major financial hub, particularly in Islamic finance, is something I am hugely honoured to be part of,” Shaikh Ebrahim states. “Bahrain’s success can be attributed to several factors, starting with its globally-recognised robust regulatory framework, its clear and adaptable legal infrastructure, and its consistent aligning with international standards. Equally vital is the emphasis on developing a skilled workforce through training and knowledge exchange, ensuring Bahrain remains competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. 

“Moreover, Bahrain’s proactive approach to technology adoption, especially in fields like blockchain, is world class, as is its standardising of best practices in Islamic finance.” 

Moving forward, Shaikh Ebrahim argues that achieving sustainable development goals necessitates economic empowerment and smart financial inclusion, a multifaceted challenge that demands collaborative efforts from all sectors of society. With regards to Islamic finance, aligning with the Maqasid al-Sharia, or objectives of Islamic law, is paramount. He argues that Islamic banks must redirect investments towards sectors with real economic impact, such as manufacturing and small-medium enterprises, fostering job creation and economic growth. 

“Additionally, leveraging technology to enhance financial accessibility is crucial,” he believes. “Embracing FinTech solutions like mobile banking and blockchain can broaden financial inclusion, particularly for underserved populations. 

“Moreover, issuing Sukuk (Sharia-compliant bonds) for infrastructure development, coupled with prudent debt management, can stimulate sustainable economic growth. It’s essential to prioritise inclusive economic policies that empower all segments of society, ensuring that no one is left behind.” 

As Bahrain prepares for the upcoming World Entrepreneurs’ Investment Forum this month, the Kingdom’s role in fostering global collaboration and innovation will be highlighted. It will be held under the patronage of HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, something which Shaikh Ebrahim believes underlines the conference’s importance to Bahrain’s financial future. 

He states: “The WEIF is now is the flagship platform to attract government officials, entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers from all over the world. Representatives from as many as 100 countries are expected, including from the Arab League. 

“The forum’s success is attributed to visionary initiatives like the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s partnership and its global recognition as a premier platform for entrepreneurship and investment. By facilitating dialogue, partnerships, and impactful investments, the forum plays a pivotal role in addressing global challenges and unlocking new opportunities. 

“Furthermore, hosting the forum alongside the Arab Leaders’ Summit underscores the synergies between economic development and regional cooperation. The insights and recommendations from the forum will inform policy discussions at the summit, emphasising the importance of economic empowerment and inclusion in achieving sustainable development goals.”