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Qatar tribune

Satyendra Pathak


Commercial Bank is confident about Qatar’s positive economic outlook in 2023 and beyond on the back of the country’s strong fiscal condition and the ongoing gas expansion projects, the bank’s top executive has said.

Addressing media persons during an event to announce the bank’s financial results for 2022 at its headquarters in Doha on Tuesday, Commercial Bank Group Chief Executive Officer Joseph Abraham said, “Maintaining the momentum and strong execution of our five-year strategic plan, Commercial Bank reported a strong set of results for 2022. The Group reported a consolidated net profit of QR2.8 billion for 2022, up 22 percent compared to the previous year, driven mainly by an improvement in operating income and higher contributions from our associates.”

Highlighting Qatar’s strong economic condition as a major factor for the bank’s record financial results in 2022, he said, “Last year was a choppy year for the world economy. However, strong fiscal condition and positive outlook for gas prices helped Qatar fare better than many other economies in the region.”

Despite higher provisions, he said, the bank’s net profit improved by 22 percent compared to last year.

“Currently our outlook for the Qatari economy is positive over the next few years. The current growth rate is good and the most important factor is that banks are proxies for the economy. So if the economy does well, the banks also do well,” he said.

He said, “The North Field expansion will automatically lead to further business for banks. Many of the onshore works will be done by sub-contractors which will be funded by Qatari banks. The increased gas production will also be used for the further development of the downstream industry. That will also lead to further investment and require more banking facilities.”

Talking about the impact of rising global inflation on Qatar’s economy, he said, “For Qatar, the situation is much better compared to other economies in the world. The high prices of LNG are beneficial for Qatar and it’s very positive for the country in the long term. There might be some imported inflation as Qatar imports commodities. Even that is being looked after as Qatar has achieved self-sufficiency in many areas like dairy and vegetables. Such efforts are helping in mitigating the impact of inflation on the country.”

Talking about the challenges facing the banking sector in the country, he said, “Qatar’s banking system is witnessing almost a flat loan growth as the government repaid a lot of their borrowings from the banking sector because of their strong fiscal condition. They have rightly paid a lot of their debt. Because of that, there is some competition among banks in Qatar to keep their interest rates low, even though the interest rates have risen, to attract more customers.”

He, however, said that there is a lot of scope for retail banking in the country.

“There is no doubt about the fact that the FIFA World Cup has put Qatar on the map of the world. The new residential policies will see more people coming to Qatar and hence there will be an increase in population. Such developments will create more opportunities for the banks in Qatar. This is the reason why Commercial Bank is also putting a lot of focus on the retail sector,” he said.

Regarding innovation, Abraham said, “I think physical cards will disappear as there will be more virtualization. As you can see, now you can pay with your phone or with your watch. I think artificial intelligence is going to impact every aspect of the banking sector, whether it operational process or customer interaction. Facial recognition launched recently in Qatar is also a form of artificial intelligence. I think more local payments will be done using these technologies.”

About the expansion plans of the bank in the local market, he said, “We have some expansion plans for 2023 in the local market. We will have a branch coming up in Lusail. A few months ago, we opened a premium branch in the Place Vendome Mall in Lusail that caters to our private and Sadara clients. Work is going on to open another branch in Lusail. We already have a big network of 30 branches in Qatar, so expansion is going to happen in newer places like Lusail,” he said.

Commercial Bank EGM and Chief Financial Officer Rehan Khan and Commercial Bank EGM, Chief Marketing Officer and CB Premium Banking Head Hussein Al Abdulla also addressed the media on the occasion. Khan provided all the updates regarding the annual financial results tomedia persons.

(See also page 9)

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