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MASHREQ

KUWAIT - Finance

Ammar Abdullah Boumijdad

Country Head, Mashreq Kuwait

Bio

Ammar Abdullah Boumijdad has been in the banking industry for more than 23 years, working for reputable banks and investment companies. He commenced his career as Assistance Manager and climbed his way to Executive Corporate Portfolio Manager at Gulf Bank. Then he held the position of Unit Head at BBK-Kuwait Branch and Executive Vice-President (EVP) at Kuwait Finance and Investment Co. (KFIC). He was also a Board Member at Credit Information Network Company (Ci-Net). His vast expertise mainly focuses on Retail Banking, International & Wholesale Corporate Banking, Financial Management as well as Treasury and International Trade Finance. Ammar’s main banking coverage includes various industries: ICT, Oil & Gas, Trade, Contracting & Manufacturing. At present, he is the Country Head for Mashreq Bank-Kuwait, managing the Bank’s operating activities by leading all line of businesses and support functions. In addition to the regulatory and compliance business aspects. Ammar holds bachelor’s degree in Communications Engineering (BEng.) and a master’s degree in Business Studies (MBS) from University of Kent, UK. He was also a participant in the National Project of Leaders’ Development at Country Level (Thukhur).

"Mashreq-Kuwait was established in 2009 and it has quickly made its way to the forefront as a premier corporate bank in the market."
TBY talks to Ammar Abdullah Boumijdad, Country Head of Mashreq Kuwait, about the bank’s competitive advantages, innovation, and plans for the year to come.
What have been some initiatives that gave Mashreq Bank a greater competitive edge in the market?

Mashreq-Kuwait was established in 2009 and it has quickly made its way to the forefront as a premier corporate bank in the market. Over the years, we have positioned ourselves successfully as a prominent regional player, offering unique solutions and services to our corporate clients and government entities. Ably equipped with a team that boasts wide and deep expertise in providing exceptional services in corporate lending, treasury solutions, customised trade services and Global Transaction Banking (GTB) capabilities, we aim to be one of the top three foreign banks in the market. As a global bank, we are guided by and follow international standards towards offering the best-in-class solutions for our clients. In Kuwait, we have financed several large projects including the Clean Fuel Project (CFP) and Kuwait University. In the past three years, we have expanded our approach and moved into the energy sector, as we collaborate closely with several government entities. We have emerged to be among the top three banks in the region for conducting specific high-complexity transactions. We have helped our clients by facilitating high volume corridor deals. We are also highly sought-after for our advisory services that lend us a unique competitive edge in the market. We are actively extending our services to some of the top-tier clients and projects in the market. A recent example is that of our work with a leading government entity towards creating tailor-made structured finance products.

Can you elaborate on Mashreq’s innovation strategy?

As one of the leading global banks, Mashreq’s roots are deeply entrenched in innovation. We proudly think and act like a challenger, startup and innovator. Our strategy, since our very inception, has been built around a three-pronged approach of ‘innovation, consistency and prudence’. We are redefining traditional banking models by placing customers at the heart of everything we do. A challenger bank constantly innovates and Mashreq does just that by delivering digital-first solutions that offer unparalleled convenience and efficiency. This relentless dedication to digital innovation has earned us many accolades including being named the Best Digital Bank for several consecutive years. Banking today has been revolutionized by tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and predictive technologies that have a profound influence on how banks interact with clients, manage risks and improve operational efficiency. This is fundamental to Mashreq’s innovation and customer-centric strategy – which means we are building an ecosystem centered around customers and crafting experiences that bring value and delight them using these tools. To delve deeper into how these fit into our strategy for the market, let me cite a few examples. Digital onboarding and digital transactions are a key focus area. In addition, we will increasingly utilize machine learning as well as data analytics, which helps us determine which clients fit our risk profile. We work in collaboration with regulators and are always open to engaging with them on upcoming regulations and requirements. We provide feedback based on our experience and perspectives that stem naturally from our access to knowledge from various GCC plus other countries that the Group operates in – another competitive edge we have in the market.

Could you elaborate more on the bank’s strategy for cyber defense?

Data protection is a growing concern for every business and especially for banks, given that we and our value chain partners hold, store and share highly confidential data, which means there is always a threat of new vulnerabilities. Data protection is at the heart of the Bank’s governance and risk frameworks. While we comply in every respect with Kuwait Central Bank’s regulations in terms of cybersecurity, we are also in a constant cycle of reviewing new methods and best practices in data protection technologies. We conduct tests and audits in terms of cybersecurity annually and present the subsequent unbiased results to the central bank. In addition, our employees undergo mandatory cybersecurity trainings that equip them with the right understanding of cyber threats and how they can work with the organization towards mitigating potential risks.

How is Mashreq implementing an ESG framework on its operations?

Mashreq has a proud history of corporate responsibility. In 2022, we developed a robust sustainability framework that has been deployed across the Group’s global network. As a strategic part of the Group, we are proud to be part of this mammoth and concerted effort, which puts us ahead of other organizations. For instance, we are actively working towards ensuring local implementation of ESG initiatives, and consider this as a big part of our KPIs. Since I assumed this role, the percentage of women among our workforce has increased from 10% to around 30%, and the target is to reach 40%. I want to make sure we have at least one woman in every department. We are also taking additional steps from an environmental point of view in terms of waste management and going paperless – where we are seeing steady progress and which we anticipate will pick up pace in the coming times.

What are Mashreq Bank’s upcoming plans for Kuwait?

We are committed to continue catering to the niche market in the services and energy sectors that places its trust in our capabilities. We are also actively pursuing our role in helping businesses by facilitating deals in the trade corridor to Asia, Europe, and the American continent because of our footprints in these countries. Kuwait forms one of the strategic markets for Mashreq for the long-term. We are looking closely at hiring and coaching Kuwaiti talents from the new generation. Going beyond a focus on profitability and returns, our consistent endevour is to be more socially responsible in terms of our employees, customers, and the environment. That is the direction we are heading towards in the long term.

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