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Interview: Ibrahim Dabdoub, NBK
The Group CEO of the National Bank of Kuwait, Ibrahim Dabdoub, tells Trends about how the global economic meltdown was good for the Gulf.
January 27, 2010 10:50 by Julien Hawari
In terms of the GCC, do you think that this crisis has created an opportunity to bring things together, even though there seem to be problems with monetary union? Or do you think the divisions will remain?
I don’t think the crisis has brought the GCC countries closer together. We still have barriers. I hope, though, that the GCC countries will start implementing the common currency. We could start with basic issues like open borders, for example. I mean, exports to neighboring countries are held up at the border for a week. Remedying this would be one of the simplest and easiest actions we could take. After all, we have a common market.
The GCC is a homogeneous block. Same culture, same background, same history, same religion, same language. It’s more homogeneous than the European Union.
Talking about it is one thing, though; execution is another.
What will corporate Arabia look like after the crisis?
It will be much more professional in terms of corporate governance. One of our problems in the Arab world, in the Gulf in particular, is management. And you know why? The private sector is new to us. So is entrepreneurship. The public sector is in many cases still 80 percent of GDP. We haven’t created a good number of first class managers. We don’t have enough business schools. And we don’t have institutions that can create good managers, really. With luck the crisis will begin to change this.
How about your bank, NBK? You are perceived as rigorous and perhaps overly cautious. How has this crisis affected you?
Well, it affected us indirectly by reducing the volume and quality of business.
Directly we didn’t have any exposure to Kuwaiti investment companies. Our profits are still in a good shape. We’re not growing by 20 percent, which is probably not normal in any case, but we are growing – by 2 percent.