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Basel A. Al-Haroon Governor, Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK)

KUWAIT - Finance

Basel A. Al-Haroon

Governor, Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK)


Basel A. Al-Haroon was appointed Governor of CBK in April 2022. He has held several high-ranking positions in the banking and financial sectors. He started his career at CBK in 1989, advancing in various posts last of which being the manager of the foreign operations department, until he became the executive director of operations and research sector to oversee both the foreign operations department and economic research department until 2012. Al-Haroon was appointed a member of the board of commissioners of the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) in 2012. In 2021, he became the President of Kuwait Financial Intelligence Unit until 2022.

“Kuwait sees critical value in the digital economy, as it is an important element of the Kuwait Vision 2035 pillar of building a sustainable diversified economy that aims to curb the country’s reliance on hydrocarbon exports.”
In addition to focusing on the health of the financial sector as a whole, CBK is also working on establishing an environmental, social, and governance framework to ensure the sector is in line with both global and national goals.
What is the CBK’s approach to fostering greater monetary stability and engaging the banking sector to increase its digitalization?

CBK will maintain the system, implemented since May 20, 2007, that ensures stability of the Kuwaiti dinar against major foreign currencies by pegging the dinar to an undisclosed weighted basket of currencies. To create a conducive environment for growth in the sector, CBK will continue to implement a modern and flexible approach to regulation, encouraging sustainable innovation and contributing to the advancement of digital and technical insights and knowledge. CBK aims to harness technology to become better equipped to fulfil its mandate in an increasingly complex environment with ever-growing risks. CBK has adopted technology and upgraded its capabilities with a 360-degree view of regulated units, end-to-end paperless processes, insights informed by targeted analytics, future-proof technology at the heart of the new digital foundation, and best in-class capabilities within a solid structure. CBK has been diligent in ensuring it builds the infrastructure to underpin the banking sector’s future needs. The sector has shown a high level of readiness to enable the offering of digital services securely within CBK’s cybersecurity framework. To further enable the technical environment, CBK issued instructions to entities to clarify and alleviate usage of cloud computing to enhance efficiency, scaling of infrastructure, and improve access to next generation application architecture solutions. CBK had outlined a clear path for enabling open banking in the State of Kuwait, as well as its governance. This aims to provide customers with better services without compromising confidentiality and/or information security.

What is your perspective on the digital transformation taking place in Kuwait’s economy?

Kuwait sees critical value in the digital economy, as it is an important element of the Kuwait Vision 2035 pillar of building a sustainable diversified economy that aims to curb the country’s reliance on hydrocarbon exports. Establishing a knowledge economy is a key component of this pillar, which includes several key projects underway. The “developing the infrastructure” pillar also includes projects to upgrade the IT and telecoms infrastructure to improve the standards of living for citizens. Digitalization has been a national priority for several years now, and the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated the need for digitalization across sectors. The goal of this transformation is to make processes faster, cheaper, and more efficient without compromising security or privacy.

The Gulf’s banking sector has witnessed robust growth, especially in Kuwait. How would you characterize the strength of Kuwait’s banking sector?

The banking sector in Kuwait is indeed both strong and resilient. At the end of 2Q2022, the sector remains well capitalized with a CAR of 18.4%. Moreover, banks continue to show healthy growth, where on a consolidated basis, total assets grew by 8.8% in 2Q2022 on an annual basis. This growth was supported by expansion abroad, where domestic banks continued to be competitive in global markets. Kuwaiti banks were able to achieve this while maintaining ample buffers and healthy asset quality, with the NPLR at 1.46% and provision coverage at 302.5%. Profits have also been robust, with ROAA and ROAE registering 1.23% and 10.42%, respectively, as of 2Q2022. These indicators highlight CBK’s policy success, not only in fostering financial intermediation but also in ensuring financial stability and banking system resilience.

Considering Kuwait’s Vision 2035 and the ESG goals, what is CBK doing to progress these initiatives?

As Kuwait moves steadily toward a transformed economy, CBK works to solidly contribute to and underpin the New Kuwait 2035 goals and support the political leadership as a regional financial and trade center. A central pillar of the vision is creating a sustainable diversified economy. An attractive business environment, conducive to economic growth and attractive to investors can only exist within a strong and stable financial system. CBK will continue support of the drivers of sustainable economic development and outline the monetary and credit policies to promote investment, maintain local prices within reasonable limits, achieve economic and social advancement, and increase the national income and, hence, the welfare and prosperity of Kuwait.



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