With over eight decades of experience operating in the Middle East, and as the largest global Arab banking network with over 600 branches in 28 countries across 5 continents, Arab Bank continues to be a primary gateway to and from the MENA region. Nemeh Sabbagh, Arab Bank’s CEO, details the bank’s solid growth and its regional outlook.
As one of the top 10 organizations in the Arab world, what is your current regional outlook?
Regional economies have been resilient in dealing with major shocks over the past few years, and the short and medium term outlook is now cautiously optimistic. Several regional indicators are showing stabilization in oil prices, trade, and financial flows, banking liquidity, and the pace of fiscal consolidation. Greater stabilization in regional conditions would allow greater use of under-utilized capacities of resources and people to propel regional economies to rebound.
How do your global operations help mitigate the impact of external shocks?
Almost three quarters of Arab Bank Group’s assets are located internationally, making us significantly more diversified than our domestic and regional peers. Indeed, our extensive global network uniquely positions us to help companies tap the Middle East. Moreover, we are the market leader in Jordan and our prudent practices have resulted in a long track record of successfully withstanding regional and global challenges.
Can you detail the impressive results you posted last year?
We achieved 20% growth in net profits at end-2016, compared to those in 2015. Net operating income before provisions and taxes exceeded $1.1 billion, whilst our net profit after tax reached $533 million for 2016 as compared to $442 million for 2015.
What is your current expansion strategy?
Despite the ongoing regional challenges, we will continue to leverage our deep understating of the region, prudent policies and well-diversified income streams to grow our business across MENA. We will also continue to maintain the quality of our credit portfolio, keeping our provisions coverage ratio (PCR) well in excess of 100 percent.