Market Insights

Celebrating innovation and growth

The fourth edition of IFM’s annual awards took place at Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis Hotel on 26th January 2016 in a glittering ceremony. This was IFM’s first EMEA-centric awards ceremony, where leading banks and financial services companies in the region were awarded for their establishments in Dubai

As the city was winding down for the weekend, Marriott’s Emirates Ballroom was abuzz with anticipation. Award winners milled around the elegantly decorated foyer and mingled with their industry counterparts over hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

The event, hosted by Phil Blizzard, began with H.E. Hani Al Hamli, secretary general of Dubai Economic Council launching Market Insights, the newest business quarterly magazine produced by International Finance Publications Ltd. The magazine will focus on oil & gas, clean energy, construction and communication in four upcoming quarterly issues this year, in addition to providing a platform for corporate trainings as well as industry events.

There were 50 categories of awards ranging from insurance, banking mobile application, Islamic finance technology, wealth management and foreign exchange. However, there were also some big winners in telecom, medical insurance and real estate.

Big wins

Saudi Arabia and Qatar emerged big winners of the night – Nine of the winning companies were from Saudi Arabia that won 11 awards, eight were from Qatar that won nine awards. Five UAE-based companies won eight awards, while four major Omani corporations were given four awards. Four Kuwaiti companies bagged six awards, while there was one winner from Bahrain. Three Egyptian companies won three awards, and entries from Lebanon, Mozambique and Kenya won one award each.

Telecom reigns at IFM ceremony

The growth of the telecom industry in GCC is a reflection of the mobility it has gained in the region. More so, steps are being taken by the governments to actively propagate the growth of other sectors in a bid to move away from their reliance on oil, and consequently diversify the economy. Saudi Telecom Company from Saudi Arabia and VIVA from Kuwait bagged the awards for “Best Telecom Company – GCC” and “Best Telecom Company of the Year” respectively. Saudi Telecom Company, also the co-host of the ceremony, is making great strides in the region through its forays into digital platforms and acquisition of towers to expand its reach. VIVA Kuwait is considered the fastest growing and most competent telecom operator in Kuwait, offering a wide range of services for businesses, individuals and corporate entities. In a statement issued to the media, Eng. Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Badran said, “Reaping such an accolade proves our exceptional performance and the high quality standards our professionals are providing to our customers. We endeavor at VIVA to foster our leadership in the telecom market with our innovative products and services that meet customers’ aspirations.”

Luxury living a top draw

Real estate and luxury retail too won top accolades at the ceremony. UAE’s SKAI Holdings, renowned for its stylish residential and luxury properties, won the Best Luxury Project UAE for its signature Viceroy Dubai Jumeirah Village, as well as the Most Innovative Real Estate Development Company in the UAE. Mr. Mohammad Abdul Rahim Al Fahim won the Best Luxury Retail CEO in the UAE. Paris Gallery is one of the country’s leading retailers, with a presence across UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq, Qatar and Bahrain.

Innovation a top priority

Setting standards for economic growth are freezones, and Oman’s upcoming free zone Duqm was awarded Emerging Economic Freezone (Investment Offering). Ismail bin Ahmad al Balushi, deputy CEO of Duqm said, “It is an honour to receive such an award and to be present at this ceremony. It feels good to be recognised by the international business community for our work in enhancing the importance of free zones in the GCC economy.” He explained that this award was particularly motivating as Duqm has a strong focus on innovation – right from planning, promotion and corporate social responsibility.

Innovation ranks high for Saudi Arabia’s leading healthcare insurer Bupa Arabia as well, which won Best CSR Initiative and Best Medical Insurance Company in Saudi Arabia. Eng. Ali Sheneamer, chief commercial officer of Bupa Arabia, said, “We focus primarily on healthcare. Our goal is to innovate and introduce new services in the market. We have been leading with our initiatives such as online pre-op SMS services, coaching services from doctors for emergent patients, Telemedicine, Doctor on the Phone and more. We want experienced people who can empower the citizens to be able to help themselves at critical times.”

While the standard of banking and financial services are of high quality in most GCC countries, there are some others like Egypt that are making quick and successful strides in upping their standards too. EG Bank won the Fastest Growing Bank award, Ahli United was adjudged the Best Trade Finance Bank while Bank Audi was specifically awarded for its retail banking product Novo. Mohammad Fayed, deputy chairman and managing director, Bank Audi, said, “This award shows that Bank Audi is among the high-tech banks in Egypt, offering some of the best solutions in the market.” Specifically, the company’s product Novo is among the several innovative banking services for the “millennial banker”. Novo is a state-of-the-art multi-touch interactive application that allows customers to browse through Bank Audi’s range of products, talk to a personal advisor, procure personalized details for credit cards and loans or even locate the nearest ATM. Fayed added, “Novo is a very new banking experience, and very new to the Egyptian market. Almost 52mn in Egypt is unbanked – we can say our country is underbanked. However, the Central Bank of Egypt is taking several measures to improve financial inclusion. Specifically, we want to empower the younger generation through financial inclusion.” Fayed revealed that Bank Audi is on its way to introduce its mobile wallet, following approvals from the Central Bank of Egypt, in a bid to bring more people to bank online easily.

The awards ceremony was a culmination of efforts to bring up the financial services industry to new heights in the region. Especially with new products and innovative services winning top honours, it was reaffirmation that creativity ranks highly for all the contenders, who vow to introduce newer products and offerings in the market soon.

Company Category
KAMCO Best Wealth Management Company; Best Real Estate Fund
Saudi Telecom Company Best Telecom Company – GCC
Qatar National Bank SAQ Most Innovative Bancassurance Product – Qatar
Barwa Bank Most Innovative Islamic Banking Product –Qatar
Capital Markets Authority Most Innovative Capital Markets Regulator – Africa
Cooperative Insurance Company (Tawuniya) Most Innovative Insurance Company – KSA
Duqm Emerging Economic Freezone (Investment Offering GCC) – Oman
EG Bank Fastest Growing Bank – Egypt
Gulf Bank Best Retail Bank – Kuwait
Al Ahli Takaful Company Best Takaful Company – Saudi Arabia
NBAD Securities Best Equity Finance Company; Best New Mobile Application; Best Research House
Paris Gallery Best Luxury Retail CEO – UAE
QNB Al Ahli Best Retail Bank – Egypt
SABB Best Bancassurance Company – KSA; Most Innovative Takaful Provider – KSA
Aafaq Islamic Finance Most Innovative Finance Company
SKAI Holdings Best Luxury Project – UAE
Saudi Investment Bank Best Environmental Sustainable Bank – KSA
VIVA Best Telecom Company of the Year
Al Jazeera Finance Company Best Islamic SME Finance Company – Qatar
Al Khaliji Commercial Bank Fastest Growing Private Bank – Qatar
Al Jazira Capital Best Brokerage CEO – KSA; Fastest Growing Islamic Brokerage House – KSA
Bahrain Islamic Bank Fastest Growing Credit Card Issuer – Bahrain
Bank Audi Most Innovative Retail Banking Product
Bupa Arabia Best CSR Initiative (Insurance) – KSA; Best Medical Insurance Company – KSA
Domino Best Independent Investment Advisory Firm
Global Investment Bank Limited Most Innovative New Bank – UAE
Macro Software Systems LLC Best IT Service Provider – Oman
Masumali Meghji Insurance Brokers Best Insurance Broker – Kenya
Oman UAE Exchange Best Foreign Exchange Provider – Oman
Path Solutions Best Islamic Finance Technology Provider – Lebanon
Qatar International Islamic Bank Best Islamic Bank – Qatar
SKAI Holdings Most Innovative Real Estate Company – UAE
Al Yusr Leasing & Finance Best Leasing & Finance Company – KSA
Warba Bank Fastest Growing Bank – Kuwait
Ahli United Bank Best Trade Finance Bank – Egypt
ATS Travels Best Travel Management Company – UAE
Barwa Bank Best In-House Marketing & Communication – Qatar
First Finance Most Innovative Finance Company – Qatar
Gulf Bank Best Retail Customer Service Bank – Kuwait
QNB Al Ahli Most Innovative Bank – Egypt
Saudi Investment Bank Best Customer Loyalty Programs – KSA
Aafiya TPA Services Best Insurance TPA – UAE
Zubair Corporation Best Social Economic Development Company – Oman
Doha Bank Best Commercial Bank – Qatar


MI Newsdesk

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