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.
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.
|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|