Investing in home-grown talent is crucial for Islamic finance in GCC – KIB

Kuwait International Bank's Nawaf Najia outlines the bank's aggressive strategy in the hyper-competitive GCC

February 10, 2017

Kuwait International Bank posted profits of $44m in Q3 2016 – 15 percent up year on year. Combined with an upgrade from Fitch Ratings, it’s testament to the success of the bank’s strategy over recent years. Nawaf Najia, Head of Corporate Communications for KIB, explains how despite the extremely competitive market, instability in the energy sector, and a volatile economic landscape, the bank has continued to thrive. Please click through to watch the second half of our conversation with Nawaf, where he discusses Kuwait International Bank’s corporate social responsibility programme.

World Finance: Kuwait International Bank posted profits of $44m in Q3 2016 – 15 percent up year on year. Combined with an upgrade from Fitch Ratings, it’s testament to the success of the bank’s strategy over recent years. Joining me is Nawaf Najia.

How competitive is the Islamic finance industry in the GCC today?

Nawaf Najia: Well, the Islamic finance sector is simply put more competitive today than ever before.

In spite of a number of challenges – including the ongoing instability in the energy sector and the changing global economic landscape – the banking sector in Kuwait and the GCC is continuing to thrive.

The Islamic banking sector in particular continues to grow and develop at a break-neck pace around the region and in Kuwait especially. The demand for sharia compliant banking solutions has reached a new high, and we are seeing a definite increase in the number of Islamic banking institutions across the whole region.

World Finance: How has this shaped the strategy of the bank?

Nawaf Najia: The intense competition, coupled with the ever-increasing demand of Islamic banking solutions, necessitated that we adopt a more aggressive approach with a focused strategic outlook, in order to elevate our presence within the industry and augment our competitive standing.

We are very proud of this position that we have reached in the regional Islamic banking sector, during the years as a real estate -dedicated bank in Kuwait, and then as a full-service Islamic bank.

We are determined today more than ever before to push even further, to further solidify our position as a leading Islamic financial institution.

World Finance: And you’ve certainly achieved that with your latest quarterly results.

Nawaf Najia: Yes: to be honest, 2016 proved to be a very successful year for KIB on all fronts.

We were honoured to have received many prestigious regional and international awards, which have reflected our continuing success and achievements across all areas of our operations.

Over the past few years in particular, KIB has been delivering a consistently solid performance and has continuously proven to be one of the most stable financial institutions in the region.

Much of our continued success can be attributed to our forward-thinking strategy and visionary outlook. This has been a key driving force pushing us to continuously develop our offerings, in order to provide customers with innovative, contemporary, and market-leading Islamic banking solutions.

The guidance of our Chairman, Sheikh Mohamed Al-Jarrah Al Sabah, along with our board of directors, has been a crucial factor in achieving this continued success, as well as the ongoing support and guidance provided by the Central Bank of Kuwait.

World Finance: I want to talk specifically about one area where Kuwait International Bank is excelling in the GCC, which is labour nationalisation. Why is this important to the bank?

Nawaf Najia: Well, as a leading financial national institution, we do firmly believe that we have a duty and responsibility to support the national workforce.

Investing in home-grown talent and building local capacity is crucial to ensure a sustainable, healthy future for this industry. This is especially important in light of the fact that the banking sector remains one of the main pillars of the Kuwaiti economy.

Our goal is to continuously attract aspiring young Kuwaiti professionals – of both genders – to pursue careers in the banking sector in an effort to drive innovation and development within this industry.