Pieces of April reflect the chaos of the world. Humanity is being challenged with the pandemic’s ruthlessness. While businesses crumble, healthcare workers are rising to the call and are being saluted and appreciated anew, even as big cities grind to a halt like never seen before.
It is a new world – brave or broken, we are yet to see. But there are signs of resilience and recovery as nature is healing, waterways being cleansed and there is less pollution in the air.
As the economy crumbles with stock markets yo-yoing, world leaders are still struggling to pump-prime the global economy and find the coronavirus vaccine. Tomorrow is another day, far away. We dither between safe or being too cautious and panicking or being foolhardy and daring.
The Olympics is postponed, while closer to home, Dubai’s Expo 2020 could be delayed.
On the insurance front, the World Takaful Conference, which was to have taken place earlier this month, has been postponed. The Global Insurance Forum of the IIS, scheduled for June in New York, is also cancelled. Ironically, the theme was to have been “Insuring the Future”.
It is early days to talk of the impact of COVID-19 on insurers in the region. But several companies are going that extra mile to be humane with the coronavirus-related claims, where possible. Interestingly in the region, several newspapers have stopped printing hardcopy to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Turning to the regular spreads, our cover story is on health and wellness in the workplace and the power of mandatory insurance in the health space.
Our country profile is on the Saudi market, which is seeing a return to growth on the back of rising prices. Will this lead to profitability and a return to long-term sanity in the business? Our special focus on the UAE is on the issue of motor pricing, which is revving up the market in the right direction.
For takaful, we revisit the coming-of-age challenges of the business model and zero in on the success story of Malaysia, led by active government support for Islamic finance, distinct from the traditional business.
As for us at MEIR, we are proud to launch the 7th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards (MIIA) to recognise and salute excellence. I believe that the industry and the world need to be positive during these gruelling uncertain times. We need to have role models and winners who can fight the odds with gusto and stand tall. We are encouraged by the support of the leaders in the market, some of whom do their part to serve as distinguished judges, lending their weight to this search. So, send in your entries now as in these dark times we need stars to shine!
I take this opportunity to wish all our Muslim readers the very best of Ramadan, when all good things must happen everywhere to everyone.
Middle East Insurance Review