THRO – tourism, hospitality, retail and oil industries are the lifeblood of the MENA economy. Whilst we all await the pyrrhic victory over the most harrowing crisis that any of us has experienced in our lifetime, the damage caused by this pandemic has already impacted these core businesses on a scale never before witnessed. Another consequence, and significantly more important, is the impact on mental health and I fear the long-term effects of this may yet be unknown. The sudden shift from conventional practices and way of life, to the discovery of this new way of living, connecting and socialising will have far-reaching effects on consumer behaviour, and businesses will have to respond and adapt.
Like in any other crisis, it is the leadership that will pave the way forward. The way in which leaders in the industry show resilience and embrace the new normal will be of immense importance in guiding people and companies towards recovery. Prioritise people over profits.
The Middle East region has its own dynamics given its unique demographic composition. Being home to over 150 nationalities, the leadership have been proactive in planning for all eventualities and have set up a robust healthcare and support services framework to address the crisis. The UAE, for example, is committed to creating a world-class infrastructure to attract and support companies in the region. As the region is interconnected with many other economies, one could expect a recovery sooner rather than later, especially given the focus of the leadership on ensuring economic revival and stability.
At the heart of it all
Insurance is at the heart of the growth and progress of every economy, and it is the precondition for many economic activities that would not – or could not take place otherwise. Given the current focus on recovery, the role of insurance is now more important than previously recognised. The time has come that we, as part of the industry, start emphasising the importance of insurance and risk management and bring it back as a top priority for C-suite and board level consideration.
Insurance, as a first responder to most crises, is the most effective risk-mitigating tool and helps support individual businesses as well as governments to build social policies and reforms. It plays a crucial role in sustainable growth of an economy and it is in times like these that we must promote our industry through consistent and coordinated campaigns, educating people about the importance of insurance and its role in society.
New products such as cyber insurance and trade credit, and amendments in health policies and business interruption covers signify the advancements in the insurance sector to respond to changing circumstances and evolving needs. In recognition of the importance of the insurance industry in times of crisis, an emergent trend will be the increased focus on strengthening premium payment standards.
For insurance to play its part in supporting industry and government, authorities need to draw up strict regulations on premium payment conditions. Only a healthy insurance industry can sustain long-term recovery, innovation and growth in an economy. M