What a hard year 2019 has been. There was little joy in business with the whirling problems from natural disasters, climate crisis and cyber threats, to domestic political strives, international trade spats, warmongering, nuclear and terrorist fears, the drastic fall of many icons and the unending Brexit.
Yet, despite the challenges in most parts, it has been business as usual with some even triumphing better results than the past year. This is the indomitable spirit of business made stronger by the dynamics of tech and the human heart pumped by the veins of innovation. This is the spirit captured by the winners of the 6th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards (MIIA). Read our cover story on what big strides they are making to turn heads.
In December as the 2020 renewal gets underway and hopefully completed soon, the market is looking at a return to profitability though some say it is not as widespread and many are looking at regulations and supervision as being the true game-changers. Each market is different of course though on average the regulatory powers are arising.
Our country profile is on Kuwait where the expectations of the impact of the long-awaited new regulations are very high. Though a market of only $1bn in premiums, it is gaining priority attention from international players these days.
With December, we bring you a nice spread of stories. There is a special read on the Saudi market looking at the bumpy road to profitability though the privatisation of one tranche of Saudi Aramco has raised expectations all round.
This month, we do a deep dive into marine whose troubled waters are seeing the worst problems in a decade in the Middle East.
In the Christmas spirit, we look at the so-called “poor” SMEs and highlight their role in the region’s economy, where they continue bravely as the unsung warriors who plod through all the hard rules to make the economy function on all fronts.
With SMEs, there is always the search beyond love and loyalty for that employee benefits package that can make the SME more attractive to jobseekers and the millennials, too. The hunt for talent is brutal but often somewhere along the highfalutin ideals and the reality, the industry settles for the lesser. But there is hope yet as much is being done on this front especially in the health and wellness arena for employees.
Looking ahead we are heartened to see talk of bridging the protection gap as well as raising technical standards. But who will lead? Who will take responsibility? Or will it just end in more hot chat and finger-pointing?
But this is December, we must end in hope that all will be well and the worst will be over. It is time for Christmas where the spirit of giving prevails above all else even if the bottom line is below par or in the red for now.
This Yuletide season, I wish the very best to all. And have a brave and bold countdown to end 2019 fast. The best is yet to be.
Middle East Insurance Review