What have been the most significant achievements of Ahlibank since its rebranding in 2014?
We did a great job with the new brand and the new vision for Ahlibank, which is to be at the heart of the community. We are a 37-year-old bank, and we consider ourselves as a boutique bank providing different banking experiences and services. We like to remain close to our clients, understand their needs, and design our products based on those needs. Now, we have a great selection of products in line with our overall brand. Our achievements after the rebranding were on the side of products as well as on our position in the market and branch openings. We invested heavily on the technology side and are currently working on that because the future of banking services will be even more digital. Mobile and online banking services, will enhance customers' banking experience.
Was this caused by COVID-19 or was it a previous trend at Ahlibank?
COVID-19 has set an example in the sense that 80% are working from home, and business is still going smoothly. We knew about the importance of deploying more technology, but COVID-19 helped us to give incredible importance to it. The new normal is an online and digital arena, but how you design it and its quality are also crucial to all stakeholders. We recently launched our updated online banking and mobile banking app offering new features for fast, secure, and convenient banking services. You can even experience the touch of technology in our branches; as we have digitalized services but have retained well-designed branches with a proper distribution in Qatar covering many areas and with the best staff selected under the Qatarization criteria. The result of our digitalization and rebranding is that we have a stable balance sheet with a great portfolio of clients. We can grow fast very easily but our aim is to grow strategically.
How do you assess the confidence in Ahlibank from the capital markets after your last issuance?
We issued bonds in mid-September 2020 for USD500 million. It was a great success for Ahlibank because a major share of demand came from the UK, Europe, and Asia, and the international market covered 90% of our issuance. That proves the trust the international market has in Ahlibank. These investors studied Ahlibank in depth and decided to go forward. The support from international banks such as Barclays and QNB Capital had also a great positive implication. This confidence was reflected in the price, and this gives us a feeling of pride and also of responsibility to keep doing our best to grow Ahlibank.
What is your assessment on the PPP Law, and what it brings to Qatar in terms of the development of the country?
We are a local bank, and we always support the development of the country. This is excellent for the long-term growth of Qatar itself, including the banking sector. The PPP Law gives a solid and transparent structure for the development of PPP projects in Qatar. We participate in many important government and non-government projects in Qatar, and one of our responsibilities is to support sectors such as contracting, as there is a huge construction sector here in Qatar. We finance the infrastructure projects in Qatar to develop industry and schools, for example, as we have a great base of such transactions. The PPP Law makes these transactions even more possible, efficient, and smoother in terms of the relations between the government and the private sector. We do our best to assist on all projects, especially government-related ones as these are important projects, with on-time payments and great security. Our bank is well organized, and we are present in all sectors. The PPP Law is just a new tool to keep growing in that direction and in alignment with Qatar National Vision 2030.