Mar 2020

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Editor's Message

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Feb 2020

The Dubai World Insurance Congress (DWIC) brings the region alive in February. In its four-year run, it has quickly become a high-profile global event presenting the MENA region to the world. 
This year it is even going a step further to get insurers to be more customer-centric with a keynote address on “Meeting the needs of the global consumer in 2025”. It is a compelling teaser that sets minds wondering, dreaming of that pot of gold that remains still mired in a maze of tech distractions. 
This year amidst the global stings made worse by the new coronavirus scare coming out of China, the region is coping with a tremendous burst of changes. Some good, as even regulators get into the act of making insurers more disciplined, more risk-management conscious, and move towards greater professionalism and higher standards. Even regulators are on the go, learning along the way while trying to inspire the industry to be more customer-responsive.
Also, within the industry, we see structural changes rolling along. Some big, some small and some aimed at re-writing what insurance is about, including making it more transparent even at the sales commission front as well as on what coverage is being sold. There is a thrust to make the industry more law-abiding.
Some players are giving up, while others are investing more. Yet others are specialising instead of being a mixed-bag of direct and wholesale players or insurers parading as intermediaries or vice versa. 
Our cover story this month is on diversity & inclusion where, in the Middle East, the industry seems to have more success stories in tackling gender equality in the workplace. What is the secret? There are also social enterprises on the scene nurturing SMEs to tap into the rich expertise that women can offer to the insurance sector.
Our market profile is on Palestine, which has a good record despite the various strives on the ground. The sector is consciously embracing international best practices seeing insurance as a platform to serve the national economy.
We also shine the spotlight on the UAE. The Dubai World Expo aside, the big excitement is about the move to look at creating a consolidated financial services regulator. 
On the business front, the merger stories continue, representing faith in the business potential in the region, which even the World Bank has given the thumbs-up for positive growth over the next three years.
In the various articles this month, we continue to stress the need for tech-enabled, data-driven operational efficiency though we take the warning on board that the industry needs to be judicious in its consumption of data to avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’.
Lastly, it is February, three months since we saluted the winners of the Middle East Insurance Industry Awards (MIIA). I call on the winners to go that extra mile to raise the profile of insurance in the public arena. Stand tall so that you give insurance a chance to stand on your shoulders to win the trust of the public.
Sivam Subramaniam
Middle East Insurance Review
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