The Business Year

Bassel Gamal

QATAR - Finance

Bassel Gamal

Group CEO, Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB)

Bio

Bassel Gamal has held the position of QIB’s Group CEO since 2013, having accumulated 30 years of experience in the banking and finance industry. He is currently Chairman of QIB-UK and a Board Member of Qinvest. He chairs the Credit and Investment Committee, Special Assets Committee, Assets and Liabilities Committee, and the Management Committee. He is also a member of Board’s Policies and Procedures Committee. His career started with Commercial International Bank (Chase National Bank) in Egypt, after which he joined Ahli United Bank Group in Bahrain. He has chaired and was a member of a number of committees.

QIB is committed to continuously improving its products, digital platforms, and service levels to support the diversification of Qatar’s economy and help its customers achieve their business and financial goals.

How did QIB perform in 2021, and what do you expect for the future?

2021 was another good year for QIB with assets up 11.2% YoY to QAR194 billion; financing expanding by 7.8% YoY, while deposits increased by 11%. Net operating income was also strong, rising by 10.1% YoY to QAR6 billion, while net profit increased by 16% YoY to QAR3.56 billion. We are an experienced, stable financial group which during the last few years has expanded to cover all market segments and sectors. In terms of key financial indicators, as of end of 2021, the bank achieved some significant milestones: the highest ROA in Qatar at 1.9%, the highest ROE in Qatar at 18.2%, and the best efficiency ratio (cost/income) in Qatar and the MENA region at 18.1% (15.7% at standalone basis). We have further accelerated our bank-wide digital transformation program, which has successfully translated into an increase of sales and revenue, a significant migration of branch transactions to digital channels, and a reduction in cost that helped reach the best cost/income ratio in the MENA region. We are committed to continue investing in technology to improve the customer experience, speed, security, and efficiency of our operations. Furthermore, since the outbreak of the COVID-19, having the right technology, people, and processes in place, we managed to launch a series of new digital banking solutions in a short period to enable previously unbanked customer segments to fulfill all their banking needs remotely. We have introduced a series of new banking products and services with some of them being introduced for the first time in Qatar. This allowed us to ensure business continuity while supporting the financial needs of vulnerable customers during the pandemic, with the health and safety of our customers and employees being our absolute number one priority at all times. We also released our first sustainability report to highlight our efforts towards contributing to the global sustainable development goals and to display our achievements in implementing ESG standards. Keeping customers at the core of our strategy, in 2022, we will continue reinventing our business model, exploring new revenue streams, and further embed ESG into our strategy by creating new sustainable banking practices. We are committed to supporting the diversification of Qatar’s economy and the development of a strong private sector while remaining focused on continuously improving our products, digital platforms and service levels, helping our customers and partners to achieve their business and financial goals. As part of our renewed ESG focus, important elements of our future strategy include how we can enhance sustainability in our financing activities, continue to support local communities, and take initiatives that reduce our own environmental impact.

What are the next big steps for the Islamic finance sector in Qatar?

The current trend in the banking industry is its full digitization and the adoption of new-age technologies. I believe that the focus will switch from automation, speed, convenience and efficiency to changes that are more revolutionary. Banking in the future will look very different from today, with emerging technologies shaping the way banks and consumers interact. Friction-free digital account opening, artificial intelligence, video conferencing, hyper-personalization through data science, and cloud computing are some of the key technologies that will define the banking industry in the future. At the same time, climate change is undoubtedly humankind’s most pressing challenge and as ESG concerns grow, banks are being urged to become “guardians” of the planet and are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their commitment to climate-friendly business. As part of a highly regulated industry, banks have long addressed governance issues and in recent years, they have increasingly focused on social issues with particular emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. Now the attention is turning to the E in ESG—environmental—as we begin to analyze and understand the impact of environmental considerations on risk within lending and investment portfolios.

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