Interview : Abdulhamid Mohammed Saeed
What does the merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank signal about the evolution and trajectory of the local banking sector?
ABDULHAMID MOHAMMED SAEED: In 2017, two of Abu Dhabi’s most prominent financial institutions merged, combining their strength, expertise and connectivity to form FAB. Since then, we have achieved a number of key milestones, including a channel rebrand across customer touchpoints, the harmonisation of the group’s policies and our recent IT systems integration in the UAE.
The merger led to increased value for all of the bank’s stakeholders. For customers, they now have access to an enhanced product offering, a larger branch network and an improved digital banking experience. FAB’s shareholders, meanwhile, are benefitting from the increased business opportunities and cost synergies enjoyed by a large bank. For Abu Dhabi as a whole, the bank’s scale makes us more capable of supporting the emirate’s economic growth and future diversification plans.
In what ways can banks support the broader vision of Abu Dhabi in strengthening its position to become a leading economic centre?
SAEED: We are working towards achieving Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 in numerous ways, including by championing economic diversification efforts, supporting private sector development and acting as a strategic partner to the government. FAB is a key delivery partner for the three-year Ghadan 2021 development accelerator programme, which will enhance Abu Dhabi’s competitiveness in four key areas: business and investment, society, knowledge and innovation, and lifestyle.
In September 2018 FAB organised the National Housing Exhibition which was attended by over 7000 potential customers. The group’s strategic focus on payments also led to the enhancement of FAB’s Payit proposition with the successful launch of the region’s first sound-based payment authorisation. FAB is also the official partner of the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, in line with its commitment to benefit the communities in which it operates, and the government’s drive for greater tolerance and inclusion.
We are also fully committed to supporting the stimulus plan announced by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces, which will help to add further economic growth and diversification and, in short, enhance Abu Dhabi’s competitiveness.
How is FAB pursuing internationalisation in regional markets and further afield?
SAEED: The bank’s expansion strategy will continue to make an important contribution to the group as we take advantage of an increasing number of growth opportunities both in the UAE and abroad.
With its strong economic fundamentals and ambitious development plans outlined in Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Programme 2020, Saudi Arabia and its private sector are well positioned for further growth.
In the kingdom, we have completed our first debt capital markets transaction though our investment banking franchise, and are continuing to build our corporate, and investment and personal banking franchises there as well, which will act as a necessary platform for our growth in the region’s largest economy. In addition to the targets set within the Gulf, we are aiming to continue to grow our personal and corporate banking offerings within Africa’s largest market in 2018: Egypt.
We are confident that the expansion that is witnessed in these markets will enhance our regional presence and provide an important contribution to our international network in the years to come.
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