The Business Year

Raeed Al-Tamimi

SAUDI ARABIA - Finance

When The Hammer Falls

CEO, Tawuniya

Bio

Raeed Al-Tamimi has been with Tawuniya for 18 years, joining in 1996. After obtaining a BSc from the University of Wales in the UK, he worked his way through various senior positions within Tawuniya from General Manager of Human Resources to Vice-President of Medical and Takaful insurance line of business to Senior Vice-President of all Technical insurance lines of business until becoming Chief Executive Officer. Along the way, Al-Tamimi received various professional certificates like CPHHA from the American Institute for Healthcare Quality and MHP from the American Health Insurance Plan and he serves today as Board Member in the Business School Advisory Board of Prince Sultan University, the United Insurance Company, and Waseel.

TBY talks to Raeed Al-Tamimi, CEO of Tawuniya, on how regulations are changing the marketplace, efforts to raise awareness about insurance, and on decreasing reliance on expatriate expertise.

What is your assessment of the current regulatory framework?

Looking at the time spent by the regulators up until today, the state of insurance in Saudi Arabia is a success story. The achievements are broad, in terms of the time spent and we are seeing continuous improvements in the regulatory framework within the country. However, in any new industry, we face many challenges, and it will take some time for the regulations to take effect. There are lots of compliance issues from most insurance companies, because it is a new thing for everybody. Compliance was a major issue for most companies, but moving forward we see a brighter picture, because being a leader, you also want to be the leader in terms of compliance, and sometimes you have to develop yourself before anyone else and prepare for any future requirements that come to the company.

How are you challenging the poor awareness or perception of insurance over time?

Awareness is growing at a rapid rate, and we have started to see people increase their insurance policies, whether they are compulsory or non-compulsory. People have become more aware about the benefits of insurance, because in the beginning most people thought of insurance as being a burden, not a benefit; they saw it as being just part of the regulation and that they have to pay it to finish paperwork, and so forth. However, that is changing and the evidence of the success is seen on the medical-insurance side, when people retired or lost their jobs. Even though the government is providing healthcare, people become used to using private healthcare.

How would you characterize the current level of local human capital in this sector and what are you doing as a company to raise this level?

We invest a lot in our people, because we are strong believer in human capital being the backbone of the company. Tawuniya is busy providing the best quality training and on-the-job training for our staff. One of our national obligation is to employ more locals in the industry, and we currently have more than 77% of our current positions filled by locals. The difficult part, which is challenging for all companies, is that we do not have experts in Saudi insurance, and so the only way to overcome that is to bring in expatriates to train the Saudis and to get people to take on additional training as they go, in order to reach that level. It is not easy, it will take a couple of years to reach that level; however, we are proud to say that most of our current management team are Saudis, which is a pioneering vision in our sector, being a national company, and we also have lots of projects in terms of career paths and succession plans, and training programs for staff in order to reach the required high level of expertise.

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