Dec. 5, 2021


Sheikh Waleed K. Al Hashar

Oman

Sheikh Waleed K. Al Hashar

CEO, Bank Muscat

Even in difficult times, Bank Muscat focused on ensuring critical services continued to be offered to its customers and supporting businesses with loans and payment deferment schemes.

BIO

Sheikh Waleed K. Al Hashar is the CEO of Bank Muscat. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Oman Banks Association, the Oman Center for Governance and Sustainability, and the College of Banking and Financial Studies. Before joining Bank Muscat, he held senior positions in a number of leading corporates including Petroleum Development Oman and HSBC Bank Middle East. Al Hashar joined Bank Muscat in 2004 and has since held various senior positions including group general manager – corporate services and deputy CEO. He holds a postgraduate diploma in general management from the Harvard Business School as well as a BSc and MBA from California State University in the US.


What was Bank Muscat's strategy to navigate the pandemic?

Safety, security, and sustainability were the top priorities for Bank Muscat as it navigated through multiple challenges of the pandemic in a calm and collected manner. The bank activated its business continuity plans at the beginning of the pandemic and ensured that critical services were provided continuously to its customers during multiple lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, whilst following all the necessary health and safety measures, in line with the directives of the Supreme Committee on dealing with COVID-19.

How is the bank supporting its different stakeholders?

In solidarity with national efforts, Bank Muscat has donated over OMR2 million to Oman's healthcare sector for the purchase of vaccines and emergency medical supplies. The bank also conducted a vaccination drive for all employees and their spouses. Loan deferment options and timely financial relief measures including restructuring of loans were extended to all eligible retail and corporate customers. Other important measures to aid customers included a special loan to help micro-sized and small businesses, and the waiver of digital banking transaction charges for customers and Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) for partners. With a full-fledged contactless and online payments system already in place, the bank was able to support its merchant partners to adapt quickly to the new situation. Bank Muscat redesigned its business strategy on the basis of its robust credit evaluation framework to mitigate the potential risks due to the unprecedented economic trends. The bank is giving special attention to borrowers requiring proactive steps for solutions, whilst continuing to focus on customers with a better risk profile to grow the asset book and improve the quality of its loan portfolio.

How are digital services shaping the traditional banking sector in Oman?

The Central Bank of Oman is continuously promoting a dynamic digital financial ecosystem in the Sultanate to provide sustainable support to a highly competitive and well-diversified economy and to ensure financial inclusivity. Under the guidance of the regulatory authority, Bank Muscat has been spearheading this digitalization trend in Oman by implementing state-of-the-art banking technology for the benefit of its customers. Being future-ready is a vital part of the bank's overall strategy. Having the latest technology and strengthening the bank's e-channel network is enhancing security and ease of banking for its customers. At present, over 1.2 million customers are already using Bank Muscat's omni-channel mobile and internet banking platform for their personal banking needs. In the corporate banking space, over 1.5 million transactions amounting to over OMR2 billion in transaction value were made through corporate banking digital channels in the first half of 2021. These are game-changing trends for Oman's financial services sector.

What is your CSR strategy?

Socially responsible companies maximize stakeholder value through investments for the benefit of the communities that they operate in. Being a pioneer of CSR in the Sultanate, Bank Muscat has always aimed to set standards and benchmarks in CSR in Oman and the wider region. Bank Muscat has an ambitious strategy that seeks to reinforce its robust support for national development goals in line with the landmark Vision 2040. The bank is committed to making a meaningful and measurable impact on sustainable growth and a more secure, prosperous future for the nation through a number of programs and initiatives that target youth empowerment, financial literacy and awareness, financial inclusion, education, environmental sustainability, heritage tourism, and heritage tourism health. Through its multiple programs, which touch the lives of thousands of beneficiaries every year, the bank aims to promote positive economic, social and environmental value creation for its different stakeholders and the nation. Bank Muscat publishes an annual sustainability report based on the widely-adopted Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Framework. This report helps to communicate the sustainability impact and performance in a transparent manner to all its stakeholders. Importantly, the report also helps the bank to continuously fine-tune its long-term strategy and business plans, in line with global best practices on sustainability.

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