Middle East needs sustainable growth for insurance sector

MEIF 2014 was officially inaugurated on Monday with an opening keynote address by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker, Executive Director – Financial Institutions Supervision, Central Bank of Bahrain
MEIF 2014 was officially inaugurated on Monday with an opening keynote address by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker, Executive Director – Financial Institutions Supervision, Central Bank of Bahrain
MANAMA: Experts and regulators on Monday urged the insurance sector players to seek sustainable growth patterns from medium to long term across the Middle East.

These views were expressed by experts and regulators during the opening of the 10th anniversary Special Edition of the Middle East Insurance Forum (MEIF 2014) being held in Manama.

Industry leaders deliberate upon the new strategies aimed at strengthening the regional insurance industry by overcoming competitive pressures and capturing profitable growth.

Confirming its position as the region’s largest and most influential annual gathering of international leaders in the insurance industry, the 10th Anniversary special edition of the Middle East Insurance Forum (MEIF 2014) the opening day on Monday witnessed a high profile opening at the Gulf Convention Centre in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Convened under the patronage of Central Bank of Bahrain, the event was attended by 553 international industry leaders and key decision-makers representing over 250 international and regional organizations. A powerful line-up of more than 50 international speakers and industry thought leaders discussed critical issues that the regional insurance industry is currently facing and how the industry needs to be reshaped for greater success.

MEIF 2014 was officially inaugurated today with an opening keynote address by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker, Executive Director – Financial Institutions Supervision, Central Bank of Bahrain. This was immediately followed by a special international keynote session featuring Lutfi Fadel El-Zein, Chairman, Medgulf; and Geoff Riddell, Member of the Group Executive Committee: Chairman – APMEA, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. The session, focusing on identifying the latest developments in the international insurance industry and implications for players in the Middle East, analysed the major trends reshaping the insurance industry in key developed markets across the world and assessed their impact on the regional insurance industry.

MEIF 2014 also featured an exclusive on-stage interview session with two of the leading pioneers in the Middle East insurance industry. Interviewed by Sivam Subramaniam, Editor-in-Chief, Asia Insurance Review & Middle East Insurance Review; Jerome Droesch, CEO – AXA Gulf and Middle East Region, Chairman of AXA Cooperative, Member of the Executive Board of AXA Mediterranean and Latin America Region and Board member of AXA Middle East; and Sameer AlWazzan, Chief Executive of Bahrain National Holding shared their unique insights into the progress of the regional insurance industry over the past decade and discussed what the industry needs to do in order to achieve the next level of growth.

A major highlight of this year’s MEIF 2014 was the industry leaders’ power debate session, which featured significant debates and discussions on overcoming intensifying competitive pressures in the Middle East insurance industry. The debate led by Safder Jaffer, Managing Director & Consulting Actuary – Middle East & Africa, Milliman; and featuring Jamil R. Bahou, Managing Director, Crescent Global Group; Yassir Albaharna, Chief Executive Officer, Arab Insurance Group (Arig); Youssef Al Kareh, General Manager, Solidarity General Takaful; and Farid Chedid, Chairman & CEO, Chedid Re discussed key strategies for balancing premium growth with technical profitability and also analysed how leading industry players are evolving and transforming their business to overcome the challenges of increasing competitive pressures.

“With an increasingly strong economic growth outlook for the Middle East and given the region’s historically low insurance penetration at just one-fifth of the global average, the prospects for the regional insurance industry continue to be very positive with considerable room for growth,” Farid Chedid, Chairman and CEO of Chedid Re, said.

“However to realize the full growth potential of the insurance industry in the region, the sector needs to develop talent and expertise. The industry must create affordable and tailored products that cater to the growing and complex needs of consumers in the Middle East. It is also vital for regulators in the region to ensure that the right regulatory and supervisory infrastructure is in place to enable the sector to deliver its economic and social benefits.”

“A concerted effort by policymakers, regulators and market participants is needed to address a number of market and regulatory challenges to enable insurance to further grow in the region,” Chedid said.

Day two of MEIF 2014 continues on the 11th of February and features high-profile sessions and roundtable discussions on product development, asset management, captive insurance and Takaful.

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