Oct 2020

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Editor's Message

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Oct 2020

How quickly October has come with all its wild cherries despite global geopolitical uncertainties, cheaper oil prices, and the global economy in bad shape. 
If all things had remained, we would go a-marching to Algiers under the aegis of General Arab Insurance Federation (GAIF) for the biggest meeting of the region this year.
But with COVID-19 still raging, we are stuck at home. We saw the rush to ‘work from home’ evolved to making ‘working from home work’ and now the edge is to ‘work from hometown’. How clever? And what an appealing cost-control measure while maximising efficiencies driven by technology.
As we start the 2021 renewals, all bets are for a prolonged season as everyone awaits the latest news for the best deal. The reinsurance market so dependent on face-to-face networking is now forced to do everything online for better or for worse. 
With claims piling up both on the COVID-19 front as well as with Nat CATs and man-made disasters, rates are hardening. But many questions hang in the air: Can you pull through higher rates on a market that can ill afford the increases especially as its core business is shrinking? Some reinsurers have even decided against covering pandemics. Then there is the whole debate on BI covers without real physical damage. Do regulators have a supra-contractual say? Will the partnership borne of years of treaty ties matter now? Or is COVID-19 the time to wake up to the realities of the true risk landscape in a market that is slowly ebbing? Will alternative capital help? Will this be the time for M&A to sprout rapidly?
With the digital economy and insurers on the digital train, cyber security is a major issue. Does the industry have the right talent and wherewithal to face up to the greater risks of hacking and ransomware? 
Our cover story is therefore on cyber with the market size tipped to triple following the pandemic to some $20bn by 2025. Our country profile is on Saudi Arabia, which despite the oil price plunge and COVID-19 is still showing resilience. The local market is still teeming with potential, they say. 
The new normal in links between Israel and some Arab nations like the UAE and Bahrain might start a fresh burst of business ties and opportunities. This is a space to watch.
In the $2.4tn Islamic finance sector, there seems to be new hope in transformative growth, streamlining sukuks, creating greater standardisation and making funds more ESG-bound as they go green and get more digital and FinTech-driven.
Looking up at the stars to make the world glitter, we just hosted our judging of the 48 finalists last month. The panel of diligent judges had a tough time choosing the winners in the 16 categories for the 7th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards. The virtual awards presentation ceremony with all the pomp will be held on 22 November. So mark your date as in these grim times, we truly need stars to lead the way.
I wish you all the very best for the last quarter of the year hoping that 2021 will burst forth fresh and free of the roaring virus that palled 2020. 
Sivam Subramaniam
Middle East Insurance Review
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