What are the reasons for takaful insurance gaining an edge over conventional insurance in Qatar?
ABDULLA BIN ALI AL-ASSIRI Takaful, which is our area of expertise, is not also the preferred sharia-compliant choice, but also a lucrative option for non-Muslims due to the idea of returning any surplus back to policy holders after management fees. By that principle, we are competitive when it comes to rates plus we give back surplus. This element makes takaful attractive generally whether for institutions or individuals. The market is moving more toward individual insurance products because market participants have gained more knowledge and there has been a change in demographics. We are putting great effort and emphasis on the composition of people that will make up the economy in the future. The number of people in the country is one element but rather more importantly is the demographics and the expected increase of the educated middle class. We will service them with more affordable insurance solutions to help them protect their families and themselves. There has been a huge increase in takaful insurance relative to conventional insurance in the last 10 years, and both reasons are the main drivers. Currently, the proportion of takaful as part of the total insurance coverage is increasing much faster than convention insurance.
What circumstances brought MetLife and the broader health and life insurance industry to their status in Qatar in 2020?
MUHAMAD BAKHTI For over 57 years, MetLife has been proudly providing Qatar's citizens and residents with products and solutions that satisfy all their needs. We believe that as an industry leader, that takes pride in understanding its customers, we have a responsibility to help protect them in their life's journey and provide them with the confidence to navigate and live the life they want. As a customer-focused organization, we've been learning about our customers for more than 150 years, studying socio-economic trends, listening to their feedback, and using advanced analytics to create customizable solutions that meet their evolving needs and adapt to market changes. When we first entered the market in Qatar, insurance was not viewed as crucial, but as the requirements of customers grew, we started to witness a change in the mindset towards understanding the importance of insurance and protection. Today, in Qatar, the insurance sector is experiencing a rapid development from a regulatory, penetration, and product perspective. We are witnessing a growing demand for different types of insurance especially among millennials who make a significant percentage of the population.
How will local insurance companies capitalize on all the FDI coming in through Qatar Free Zones?
ABAAA There is absolutely room for collaboration and there are already foreign investors coming in the insurance sector. We are playing our supporting role as we know the business and the country. We are partners with the biggest names in reinsurance who provide us with capacity, capabilities, and technical knowhow. We can be partners with any foreign insurer and an example of this is our partnership with Aetna, the US-based medical insurance provider. On the other hand, the insurance sector can play an important role in terms of attracting more FDI. The industrial sector is the right sector to focus on and we continue to build our capability and coverage through our reinsurers.
What are your prospects for 2020 and 2021?
MB We adapt to our customers' needs in every region we operate in and ensure that our offered products support what they're looking for. In addition, the implementation of mandatory insurance, such as health insurance in other countries, can play a role in the increase of penetration. Therefore, for life insurance, we see an existing opportunity due to the current low penetration. Together with our partners, we aim to provide the market with customizable products that promise to protect our customers, and their families and loved ones as they navigate their life's journey.