Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair: “Central Banks should lead the way to an advanced banking sector”

Published November 2nd, 2009 - 02:37 GMT

H.E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq and Speaker of the Federal National Council addressed the challenges and opportunities facing Arab banks at this year’s Kuwaiti Financial Forum.

Held under the patronage of H.H Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait, the event took place on November 1st and 2nd at the Sheraton Kuwait Hotel.

“In the forum’s debates, Central Banks Governors touched on the importance of a more regulated banking industry, which is a key element we need to address while taking into consideration the following. In addition to the Central Banks crucial role to encourage financial institutions to enhance their services and risk management system, Central Banks should also support and reward banks that invest in the development of their IT and products infrastructure. Our rules and regulations should continue to support the banking sector’s commitment to innovation, which without doubt, will lead to a healthier economy,” commented Al Ghurair. 

In response to questions raised about local banks positioning and market share in light of the global financial sector’s set back, Al Ghurair highlighted that while this can serve certain local banks, such as banks with a strong financial record like Mashreq, or government owned institutions, what is more important is for the region’s banks to seize this opportunity to enhance local skills, particularly on the investment banking front.

The successful two days event, organized by the Al-Iktisad Wal-Aamal Group in cooperation with the Kuwait Central Bank and the Kuwait Bank Association, provided over 600 leading financial figures and influencers, a forum through which they engaged in dialogue on the current economic and financial environment.

“The region’s banks are in good shape but it is important that we realize the significant role we ought to play in bringing back market confidence. This forum opened a new channel of communication amongst key players in the banking industry, a significant step towards a stronger economy and I would like to thank the Kuwaiti Central Bank and the organizers behind this event,” Al Ghurair concluded.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair led the ‘Challenges Facing Arab Banks’ panel, and also addressed asset quality, liquidity, risk management and how it can be improved, in addition to the growth of regional institutions verses international institutions in light of the current market conditions. Abdulmajeed Al Shatti, Chairman of Kuwait Banking Association, Youssef Nasser, Chairman, HSBC Middle East Bank, Shaikha Al Bahar, Deputy Group CEO in National Bank of Kuwait, Jean-Christophe Durand, Managing Director in BNP Paribas, GCC and Dr. Hussein Hassan, Head of Structuring, MENA Region Deutsche Bank contributed to the panel led by Al Ghurair.

Other topics that were tackled at the forum included; key learning from the global financial crisis, the future of the Arab economies and the financial market trends. The forum also featured workshops on the latest IT applications in banking services, payment systems and risk management.

One of the most successful bankers in the region, Abdul Aziz also holds a position as Speaker of the House at the Federal National Council. As CEO of Mashreq Group, he was responsible for the bank’s international transactions and assisted in opening branches in New York, London, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, India and Pakistan. He was appointed director in 1989 and became the CEO the next year. Since then the bank has grown and expanded across the region to offer its customers high quality and prompt services. Under his 20 year tenure the bank’s assets have risen to AED 96.7 billion, making it a world-class financial services institution.

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