We return with a bumper issue this September with so many things happening. There is a pervading sense of bad news all over with pockets of tensions, terrorism, trade spats, and even doom and gloom. It takes a brave heart to summon the deep optimism to put on the brave smile that things can only get better.
With that smile iconised, I look at the hype of activities in September as reinsurers take centre stage on the global insurance scene with Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous, where the who’s who in insurance meet to take stock of what is in store. Will rates harden or will the capital market invasion ease up, or will the M&A trend get more pervasive?
For us closer to the region, there is the FAIR biennial conference in Morocco, heralded as the gateway to Africa. As the big gets bigger in the gig economy, FAIR is determined to stay relevant to enhance its service to its over 200 members from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Its scope of activities has increased, and FAIR’s relevance is entrenched especially as the world now revisits the opportunities in Africa. The theme this September in Marrakech seeks to find solutions to the new economic barriers in Afro-Asian insurance markets.
Our cover story is on reinsurance where we zero in on the regional pains though reinsurance is strictly global on all counts. MENA reinsurers are feeling the heat due to sluggish economic activity and geopolitical tensions. Can they stay resilient?
In the direct market in the Middle East, there are red alerts with the insurance industry contracting by almost 5% in 2018, though North Africa managed to forge a growth of 6.8%, more than the world average growth of 4.8%. There is also bad news lurking with several companies in Saudi Arabia needing to top up capital. The political tensions including in the Strait of Hormuz are also spilling into business, creating an altogether tougher operating environment.
But there are also brave hearts stepping up the play to turn problems into opportunities, including the attempts to set up Nat CAT covers in Kuwait or the flow of more credit insurance available locally. The interview with Liberia’s Blue Cross headlined ‘Thriving amidst adversity’ is inspiring with the takeaway quote: “…yet there are always serious players willing to find a way to stand out”.
On takaful, the rah-rah continues with contributions in the region ex-GCC exceeding $10bn as takaful firms realign strategies to stay relevant in the disrupted market. There are still new takaful licences sought even as some markets are drawing the boundaries between traditional and takaful.
Do mark your calendar to attend our Takaful Rendezvous in Kuala Lumpur in October to check out what’s happening on the ground as we bring the Middle East and Southeast Asian takaful markets together to draw powerful lessons on why each region has its own unique wins. Sign up here: www.asiainsurancereview.com/Conferences
With September, there is always a sense of a renewed beginning for the year. In that spirit, I wish everyone the best for the rest of the year.
Stay active and keep actively adjusting to the changes to remain relevant and sustainable. Don’t stagnate.
Middle East Insurance Review