The Union of Arab Banks’ (UAB) Board of Directors has chosen Mohamed Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, chairman of Kuwait International Bank (KIB), as chairman of UAB, replacing Mohamed Barakat, managing director of the Arab International Bank (AIB).
Al-Sabah’s term will last from April 2016 to March 2019.
Barakat headed UAB in 2013 up until 2016. He also worked as its vice-chairman during the period from 2007 to 2013.
During the period when Barakat was chairman of UAB, several important agreements were signed, including one with the World Bank. The agreement aimed to prepare a comprehensive study for financing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East and North Africa.
A cooperation agreement was also signed with the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND) to support the financing of SMEs and micro-enterprises. Another agreement was signed with the Arab Interior Ministers Council (AIM), which targeted to fight terrorism and drain terrorists’ funds, according to a report by UAB.
UAB also signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with the European Banking Federation (EBF), the French Banking Federation (FBF), the Italian Banking Association (ABI), and other international institutions, with the goal of strengthening relationships and exchanging experiences.
During his time, Barakat initiated a dialogue between the Arab and European banking sectors. He also launched an Arab-Chinese banking dialogue, and was keen on ensuring the continuation of the dialogue between the Arab and American banking sectors.
Barakat also launched an initiative to spread financial inclusion in the Arab region.
On Wednesday and Thursday, UAB held its annual conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut. The conference involved talks about integration among Arab banks.
UAB also held a general assembly meeting in order to choose a new Board of Directors.
At the end of the conference, UAB advised the Arab governments to complete the establishment of the free trade zone, and found an Arab Customs Union as well as an Arab investment zone, in order to strengthen the Arab economic cooperation and stimulate trade and investments among Arab countries.
UAB recommended giving a larger role to the private sector to achieve economic integration among Arab countries, as well as expanding the range of Arab economic cooperation by establishing large Arab companies and projects.
UAB stressed the importance of ensuring the freedom of investors and businessmen to move between Arab countries, pointing out that it is important to establish a joint Arab body that follows up cases of money laundering and terrorism financing.
It is significant to undertake a project to connect payment systems among Arab banks, as well as activate the role of these banks in financing SMEs, according to UAB.