Ladies and gentlemen,

Lebanon is honored to host the 25th annual conference of the board of governors of the Islamic Bank for Development. I would like to express on behalf of his excellency, the President of the Republic, and myself, our gratitude for the IBD's efforts to develop the capabilities of this nation and its member countries to strengthen their status in the world. We are also glad to salute his excellency Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Ali who, thanks to his wisdom and knowledge, has succeeded in administering this important institution and helping it achieve respect and recognition in the Islamic world and the rest of the globe.

Important changes taking place in all fields and have led to a financial system characterized by economic liberalization and openness. Rapid developments in the fields of technology and communications support the move towards comprehensive economic openness and speed up its implementation. They also expand the base of trade and increase commercial competition. The private sector has developed as an active partner of the public sector in financing development programs. This has obliged many countries to restructure their economic, investment, financial and administrative systems and to introduce wide reaching reforms to these systems to create the right atmosphere for investment. In spite of differences in viewpoints over the repercussions of this new trend on economies and social conditions, especially in developing countries, it is certain that the current global economic changes will continue. It is also certain that the effects of these changes on our societies will urge us, both as groups and individuals, to take the right measures to accommodate and these changes and put them into effect.

To face these challenges, it is important to come up with frameworks and common policies between our countries. It is also important to develop the productivity of our economies and improve commercial exchange between our countries. The IBD's efforts in this direction are welcome, especially its financing of vital projects in various economic sectors and its encouragement of bilateral commercial projects between member countries. The institution's creation of investment funds of various purposes and its efforts to pool the financial resources of Islamic countries to finance development projects in all Islamic countries are also crucial.

I would like here to proudly point out the importance of the IBD's efforts to create specialized funds, like the Infrastructure Fund, the Investment Shares Fund, the Islamic Banks' Fund, and the Islamic Institution for Insuring Investments and Protecting Exports. We look forward to the development of these funds and institutions to drum up additional financial resources, establish more flexible dealings and introduce new financial instruments. We also wish the Financial Institution for Developing the Private Sector, which started operating this year, all luck in enhancing the role of the private sector in the economies of member countries. As part of this trend, the Lebanese government is looking forward to an active role by Islamic banks and investment institutions in all sectors of the Lebanese economy. In welcoming the representatives of Islamic banks who are taking part in this conference, I would like to stress that the Lebanese government will continue with all vigor to enact all the laws needed for allowing your institutions to operate and invest freely and under the appropriate guarantees for positive action. I am sure that the experience gained by Lebanese banks over a long time is a suitable and effective basis for the operation of Islamic banks. The government relies on a pioneering role by the IBD to coordinate the participation of Islamic banks and institutions in the investment climate of Lebanon. I thank the IBD's administration and chairman, Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, for their support of our reconstruction and development plans from the beginning. I would also like to acknowledge the members of the IBD's Board of Executive Directors for their honest efforts to achieve the IBD's goals. I would like to wish the governors and the representatives of international organizations and institutions a happy visit to Lebanon. I hereby announce the opening of the 25th annual conference of the Board of Governors of the Islamic Bank for Development, wishing you all success in achieving economic and social development for our peoples.