The growing role of Dubai as global hub for trade and finance was highlighted in a speech at Sibos 2013 by HE Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank and chairman of the UAE Banks Federation.
In his opening address to the dedicated Middle East and Africa day, he spoke about the UAE’s “stability, economic growth, world-class infrastructure and its position as a robust financial centre”.
The day began with a speech by Alain Raes, chief executive, EMEA & APAC at SWIFT, who then introduced HE Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair. But, before doing so, he mentioned the relevance of the region to the global economy and its significance to SWIFT’s business. “The increasing importance of the vibrant Middle East and Africa regions on the global stage is clear. Though they face challenges, their current and potential growth is obvious, and at SWIFT we are committed to supporting our customers within and outside the regions by driving discussion and debate about the opportunities and challenges and how best to tackle them.
“This first Middle East and Africa Day at Sibos is one way in which we are doing this, and I am sure the senior expert speakers and in-depth sessions will bring major value to our community.”
HE Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair told the audience that the UAE represented calm in an often turbulent region, and praised the “visionary leadership” that had made that possible.
“The remarkable social and economic transformation of our region in the past few decades is an outstanding success story of what political stability, good governance and pragmatic economic policies can do to the growth of the region.
“Of course, we have been blessed with natural resources in the form of oil and gas, which has helped us to accelerate the economic growth. However, the transformation we have gone through in such a short time would not have been possible without visionary leadership and a stable political system.”
He then went on to talk about the GCC region’s economic growth and focus on increasing diversity. “With our GDP at $1.56 trillion, the GCC is the 12th largest economy in the world. Though oil and gas continue to be the mainstay of GCC economies, over the past few decades all the countries within the bloc have made very conscious and successful attempts to diversify the economies. For example, in the UAE the non-oil economy constitutes more than 65 per cent of its annual GDP. Tourism, transportation, manufacturing, the retail trade, services and real estate are major contributors of non-oil trade in the region.”
GCC exports have doubled since 2009 to reach US$1 trillion, he added, and by 2020, the region is expected to be a US$2 trillion economy. This growth would be supported by the UAE’s world-class infrastructure and its strategic location between east
He then went on to outline the importance and relevance of the financial sector to the UAE economy, saying its banking sector was the largest in the Arab world – with banking sector assets of 1.3 times