SECURING THE FUTURE

Jordan 2019 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

AICJ is working with regional partners and shareholders to deliver high-tech solutions to customers.

Rashid El-Habbab
BIOGRAPHY
Rashid El-Habbab is the General Manager of AICJ. He is an insurance expert with over 35 years of experience in the Middle East and the Gulf. He holds a bachelor’s in public administration from the American University of Beirut, and a master’s in business administration from the University of Delaware, where he focused on insurance and risk management. He is a certified insurance professional, receiving the designation from the Institute of Risk Management in London. El-Habbab is also a board member of the Jordan Insurance Federation.

What have been the main achievements for AICJ over the last few years?

AICJ has a long history in the local insurance market and has always been an excellent, reputable company. We made some big changes at AICJ to reflect changes in the market, including diversifying our portfolio, working to acquire a larger market share, and becoming more competitive. A major achievement is that we have enlarged our portfolio in all our insurance lines. Our market share has also grown, and, at the same time, we have been profitable in our insurance lines. We have also effected changes in the structure of our workforce and taken on a large number of new employees with great experience to enhance our performance in every department. We have launched a major marketing campaign to promote AICJ's latest products and services. In 4Q2018, after two years' work, we launched our new IT system, which is now fully operational. Today, AICJ is growing in terms of volume by applying a stricter underwriting policy to concentrate on the bottom rather than the top line.

The life insurance market has been a focus for Arabia Insurance Lebanon. Does the group share knowledge and experience between its operations in different countries?

Arabia Insurance Lebanon is our parent company and has branches in all the GCC countries. But in Jordan, AICJ is a Jordanian shareholding company with Arabia Insurance Lebanon as the major shareholder, at 51%. While AICJ is not a branch of Arabia Insurance Lebanon, there is definitely cooperation. AICJ is a standalone company, but we do try to exchange ideas and experience and work together on servicing multinational clients that have a presence in Jordan and elsewhere. We do not have shared products. Arabia Insurance Lebanon has an excellent life scheme that it is promoting in the GCC and elsewhere called Arabia Lifestyle. However, we have our own life products that we tailor and sell in the local market.

What makes AICJ stand out in Jordan's small and highly competitive insurance landscape?

We focus on our long presence in the market and rely on our solid client base. We also have excellent relationships with A-rated international re-insurers, which helps us provide great coverage for our clients. Our main shareholders, Arabia Insurance Lebanon and Jordan Ahli Bank, together with AICJ's other shareholders, including some prominent merchants and business people, all have a solid reputation in the Arab world. This gives us excellent support and enables us to be active in the market. We also stand out because we invest in recruiting high-caliber local insurance specialists for all our business lines.

What is your outlook for the company, insurance sector, and the Jordanian economy in 2019?

The country is part of a turbulent region of the world, but we are glad to be in Jordan because we have a stable political system. Overall, the people are pleased with the country's leadership, and they are a well-educated population that loves their country. There is no issue with maintaining this stable atmosphere in the country. Unfortunately, geographically, politically, and economically, Jordan is affected by the surrounding environment. This is why it is difficult to predict the future. We cross our fingers that the situation in Syria and Iraq calms down, and we hope that the political situation in the region will improve. 2018 was a tough year in all respects. In 2019, there will be an improvement in the political and economic situation in the region, which will reflect well on the business side and for individuals in terms of earnings and their ability to spend on new products and services. For AICJ, I hope we will maintain our success and continue to grow and increase our profitability. We want to achieve a more active role in servicing the local market with our insurance products and services.