The Business Year

Mohamed J. Berro

Group CEO, Al Hilal Bank

Tirad Al-Mahmoud

CEO, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB)

How does your bank seek to increase its profile in the finance industry? MOHAMED J. BERRO For Al Hilal Bank, being green is very important to our plan because Abu […]

How does your bank seek to increase its profile in the finance industry?

MOHAMED J. BERRO For Al Hilal Bank, being green is very important to our plan because Abu Dhabi is also following the same trend. We are a bank that supports the realization of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, and being green is a cornerstone of that plan. Considering our strategy, our operations are focused on three pillars. One of these is the financial pillar. The second is the health of the bank. And the third is our responsibility toward the development of the UAE and Abu Dhabi, and their citizens. For example, there are a few achievements I am particularly proud of, one of which is our newly signed agreement with Emirates National School, a major education provider here in Abu Dhabi. We have created a banking curriculum that will be for school-aged children from kindergarten until graduation. We are not only financing the realization of the bridges and various industrial sectors in the country, but are also helping to shape the new generation for 2030.

TIRAD AL-MAHMOUD At Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), we are positioning ourselves to the non-Muslim community as a very competitive bank offering excellent service. We speak their language and we are highly ethical. It doesn’t matter what religion you have, if you are a person who prefers to deal with an institution of integrity, then we are your bank. We are required by the terms of our charter to demonstrate tolerance when customers experience financial difficulty. Should one lose their job and fall behind on an installment, for instance, we show patience until employment is found. And in terms of transparency, there are no hidden charges, and our pledge to the customer is zero surprises when you do business with us.

Are you cautious of a bubble bursting in the sukuk market?

MJB Not really. There are many elements that protect the sukuk market. First is the fact that it is nascent, small, and still growing. Islamic finance has outgrown conventional banking over the past few years, even during the crisis, when the yearly growth of Islamic finance was almost more than 20% both regionally and globally. That does not constitute a bubble. Until there is a more rewarding opportunity, or better yielding instruments for investors, the sukuk market will be there. Indeed, there is growth in the sukuk segment, and we see many corporates interested in the market. Specifically, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has a vision of Dubai becoming an Islamic center and a major sukuk player. The entire Islamic finance market globally is worth around $1.2 trillion, thus still minute compared to global assets and banking assets in the region, as well as compared to the growth and expenditures that our local economies are witnessing.

What is the focus of your international business?

TAM Including our home market we are active in seven countries in total, namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Sudan, Egypt, and the UK. Our strategy is very simple: we are working to develop a strong presence in the Middle East and North Africa. We need to be seen as a regional bank able to offer a similar package of services as any international bank in the region. We look at key markets where the demographics are right and there is impressive economic activity or potential. We have a strong presence in Qatar, Iraq, Sudan, and Egypt, amid continued growth. For any company that wants a presence in the Middle East, or a high net worth individual looking to invest personal wealth here in the UAE, we are the right financial partners.

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