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8TH Middle east Insurance Industry Awards 2021

Salute the Winners of the 8th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards 2021

Life Insurance Company of the Year
MetLife Gulf

Its hallmark is transparent, customer-focused insurance services to individuals and businesses across the Gulf since 1962. Leading in five GCC countries through all distribution channels and diversified product portfolios, MetLife’s hyperlocal focus has enabled it to understand and make a positive impact in the lives of its customers.

The company has focused on spreading insurance awareness and narrowing societal gaps in life protection and savings. Its ‘life comes first’ integrated campaign is aimed at educating both customers and intermediaries on the need for family protection and showcasing the status of the insurance market in the UAE. More than 2,000 people were surveyed in the UAE and the findings were presented in a whitepaper.

It launched a standalone digital calculator that customers can use to understand and analyse gaps in financial preparedness. Multiple versions of this calculator exist to serve different segment needs.

Over the past year, MetLife ran over 11 protection and life webinars, with attendances by more than 250 people, higher than the industry benchmark. It has also formed strategic partnerships with RAKBANK and Emirates NBD.

The company has embraced digital innovation. Its digital sales platform, MPower, is a full end-to-end digital solution from prospect creation to the administration of policies. Its auto-underwriting service also provides advanced analytics.

MetLife has expanded its reach on social media and it has in-depth knowledge of customer and claims behaviour.

Robotics is another area it has invested in. It has 15 robots to execute transactions, thereby allowing employees to concentrate on more value-added activities. The robots can execute tasks such as policy-servicing transactions, claims processing, commission processing for brokers and reporting across teams. More robots are being developed.

MetLife was one of the first insurers in the UAE to launch BOD-49 compliant value propositions via its captive agency distribution channel.

Except for sanctioned countries, MetLife’s life products are portable across countries.

General Insurance Company of the Year
Gulf Insurance Group K.S.C.P.

Gulf Insurance Group (gig), listed on Boursa Kuwait, is the largest insurance group in Kuwait in terms of written and retained premiums.

It is a market leader in Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt. It also has direct operational footprints in Turkey, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It is the first triple-rated insurance group in Kuwait and is accredited by AM Best, S&P and Moody’s Investors Service. Despite the pandemic, gig delivered double-digit growth in 2020.

As part of its strategic regional expansion programme, gig acquired AXA’s insurance operations in the Gulf region for $474.75m. The agreement includes AXA’s shareholdings in AXA Gulf (Bahrain, UAE, Oman and Qatar), AXA Cooperative Insurance (Saudi Arabia) and AXA Green Crescent Insurance (UAE).

gig also acquired a 9.6% stake in financial comparison aggregators yallacompare and a 60% stake in Gulf Warranties, KSA, a specialised extended warranty service provider.

Through its subsidiary, gig-Jordan, the group took a 75% stake in Arab Life, a Jordanian life insurance company and via gig-Kuwait, the group took a 65.2% stake in Kuwaiti takaful player Gulf Takaful.

gig also diversified its product offerings with greater emphasis on property and casualty products and life especially for extended warranty and specialty lines, following the formation of its financial lines desk.

The group uses digital distribution channels, digital claims services, digital consumer products, robotic process automation, data lab and analytics and has digitalised core functions across the group. gig-Jordan successfully launched the first auto telematics in Jordan.

In 2020, gig won the ‘decade of excellence, insurance MENA’ award. It was also awarded the brand of the year 2020 award from the World Branding Forum.

Health Insurance Company of the Year
Bupa Arabia

Bupa Arabia believes in serving its customers both in illness and wellness, aiming to be ‘the most trusted health insurer in the Arab world’. The company adapts and localises global best practices to serve diverse customer needs. The company was the first health insurer in Saudi Arabia to develop specialised and innovative membership programmes (Tebtom and Rahatkom) for companies and individuals, aimed at affordable, high-quality care and a personalised customer experience.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bupa set up a stateof-the-art command centre to answer member queries related to COVID-19. It provided customer access to extended remote healthcare services, proactive communications with vulnerable members and resources for the Ministry of Health’s hotline. It partnered with Labayh, an app offering online sessions with mental health experts. The company developed a new set of actions under ‘project shield’, a best practice evolving crisis management framework against which Bupa Arabia monitors, progresses and future-proofs its operations

In 2020, Bupa Arabia launched its Bupa Family, Bupa Helpers and Bupa Parents programmes, providing healthcare insurance options for different population segments. The new products are in line with the Saudi Vision 2030. In the same year, the company recorded a 17.2% increase in overall profitability versus 2019.

Bupa Arabia also works closely with policymakers and industry regulators to deliver innovative and practical solutions to the country’s healthcare challenges. In a first-of-its-kind, Bupa Arabia released a whitepaper highlighting the importance of implementing a generic medicine framework (legislation) for the development of the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia as part of the Saudi Vision 2030. The report sets out how a legislated generic medicine framework can result in an estimated decrease of SR10bn ($2.67bn) in medication spending annually and boost local manufacturing of drugs, providing employment opportunities for Saudis and reducing the medication cost burden on the country.

The company invests heavily in digitalisation and it is developing emerging technologies such as AI and robotics. Deploying digital technologies has enabled Bupa Arabia to deliver more tailored products and services through platforms. In addition, the introduction of proactive prevention with digital tools such as health and fitness contribute to reducing insurance risk. To address the ‘plastic waste crisis’, Bupa Arabia adopted the ‘easier for you’ initiative of the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance to reduce the use of plastic cards.

Through its free health insurance programme for orphans, it provides healthcare services to 2,600 children across 47 orphanages. In response to the pandemic, it provided SR20m in financial support to the health WAQF fund, a strategic partner of the health ministry. During Ramadan, the company partnered with the government to provide 3,000 food baskets to underprivileged families. Other initiatives include campaigns for women’s empowerment, blood donation drives, health awareness sessions, employee support helpline, Ramadan gifts to all employees and a healthy fasting guide.

Takaful Company of the Year
National Takaful Company (Watania)

This is the first time that Watania has scooped the Takaful Company of the Year award.

Since 2016, Watania has embarked on a back-to-basics strategy that set the foundational pillars for its transformation. Among the pillars include generating surplus for policyholders through sustainable growth and underwriting profitability and achieving consistent profitability for shareholders through stable investment performance and expense management.

Another pillar is focusing on customer service that is consistently based on well-defined TATs and by establishing and monitoring customer survey index and maintaining high policy renewal ratio. Lastly Watania strives to create a positive environment for employees by enhancing skills and motivation through performance-based rewards.

Watania has delivered affirmative results across all metrics. It registered strong performance through its transformation, recording growth in GWP and policyholder funds. Its GWP reached AED321.5m ($87.5m) in FY 2020 compared to AED200m in FY 2016, reflecting growth of ~61% and translating into a CAGR of 12.6%. Underwriting profit hit AED58m in FY 2020, growing by 159% compared to AED22m in FY 2016. Net profit increased from AED385,000 in 2016 to AED18.4m in 2020 and ROE grew from 0.5% to 19.7%. Watania also recorded consistent dividend pay-out from 2018 starting from 5% and growing to 7.5% in 2020.

Watania’s digital evolution has also been the cornerstone of its remarkable transformation, allowing the company to optimise essential processes and build newer channels for intermediaries and customers. The initiative also inspires collaboration and knowledge sharing within the organisation and with external stakeholders and puts the customer at the centre of its business.

As a fully shariah-compliant company, Watania strives to exert positive influence on the community and deliver meaningful value for all stakeholders. It has created a ‘happiness fund’ to waive regulatory fines of less privileged customers. It is a partner of Fazaa, a social initiative aimed at developing social interdependence and solidarity within the UAE community. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, it concluded its annual Ramadan campaign in 2020 which directly benefitted the less fortunate section of the society.

Digital Initiative of the Year
Cigna Insurance Middle East

Cigna has been operating in the Middle East for more than 17 years. It was the first global insurer to launch a global telehealth service in the region that enabled users to seek medical consultations on the go through its Cigna wellbeing app. Downloads of the app and logins increased in 2020.

The company has adopted a ‘cloud first’ strategy whereby new solutions would be cloud-enabled, allowing it to utilise cloud capabilities. Cigna has introduced a CRM platform through which all customer interactions and enquiries are managed. It adopted Salesforce PaaS for CRM and front-of-house capabilities. It leverages Oracle cloud capabilities to host its next-generation policy admin platform.

At the beginning of 2021, Cigna’s end-to-end online quotation tool for SME businesses went online. The company also uses search engine optimisation tools and updated its website to improve turnaround time.

The Cigna Envoy portal was upgraded to ensure a single experience across web ad mobile applications. This provided customers with the same functionality across devices. It also streamlined the claims submission process.

The company has implemented cardless care access that provides customers with a soft copy of their insurance cards. It has also invested in research and development and commissioned studies that identify vital issues in the community and shed light on the needs of consumers. One recent report was the COVID-19 global impact study.

Cigna leveraged the findings to serve the population better with tailored solutions including a partnership with the German Neuroscience Center to offer complimentary mental health consultations to all UAE residents. More than 300 people requested a mental health check-in with the German centre. Cigna has also partnered with leading influences in the region to support the UAE community with mental health resources during the pandemic and spread the message of ‘checking in’.

Broker of the Year
Marsh Middle East & Africa

Marsh Middle East & Africa (MEA) has been awarded broker of the year for the third year in a row.

Despite the pandemic, Marsh guaranteed job security for all its staff, enabling them to focus on clients. It introduced a dedicated COVID-19 hub on its website in 2020 and held over 30 client-facing webinars on COVID-19-related matters. As a result, its business across MEA increased 4% in 2020 with some countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt delivering double-digit growth.

Marsh MEA, which operates in 17 countries, put in practice a highly devolved decision-making model that delegated an unprecedented level of authority to countries, teams and individual leaders - entrusting them to take immediate decisions for clients’ benefit without having to refer back to a more senior manager. Its new business revenues exceeded expectations with 10% growth versus 2019, a record performance for Marsh MEA in terms of new business and standing. The innovation, pace and timeliness of its COVID-19 products and services enabled it to be first to market.

It developed an internal self-help campaign for staff. In its Marsh MEA Growth Summit, more than 1,800 employees engaged as ‘one MEA’ to discuss, debate and consider the tangible aspects to shift the business forward - design a forward-looking, fit-for-purpose business model and upgrade its capabilities to solidify its position as the leading insurance and risk adviser in the MEA region.

The growth summit was designed to explore Marsh MEA’s ‘future of possibilities’. It had six ‘new frontiers’ in the areas of colleague and skills development, innovation, midmarket growth, diversity and inclusion and becoming a ‘broader influencer’ in the region in critical areas. The frontiers are designed to craft its new growth trajectory and set a strategic roadmap to Vision 2025.

Marsh MEA also launched its ‘possibility by design’ programme to accelerate investment in technology, digital enablement and operational simplification. The comprehensive three-year programme includes initiatives to reduce redundant processes; centralise, automate and standardise routine activities; digitalise client engagement for both risk management and SME clients; enhance data-driven solutions; and free up capacity for client engagement.

A core theme throughout its growth summit was inclusion and diversity. With women making up half of its staff across the region, it launched the women’s insurance network (WIN)@Marsh MEA. The objective is to create an empowering forum for female employees across the region. Marsh also established a council to help foster inclusive environments. In 2020, with a focus on Saudi Arabia, half of the 23 new graduates hired were female. Marsh MEA has also begun to position itself as a thought leader to influence the public discourse and direction in two critical areas - cyber security and climate/energy transition.

Reinsurance Company of the Year
Saudi Re

Saudi Re is a first-time recipient of the Reinsurance Company of the Year award, a testament to its efficient business model, commitment to market development and efforts to promote sustainable practices. In 2020, Saudi Re coped with the unprecedented market challenges caused by COVID-19 and succeeded in sustaining its growth momentum. Its GWP grew by 18% to SAR935m ($249.3m), driven by 25% growth in the international markets and 8% in the domestic market. The efforts exerted during 2020 also resulted in a growth rate of 58% in 1Q 2021.

In addition, the reinsurer’s net profit before zakat increased by 2% y-o-y to SAR60.6m in 2020 while total shareholders’ equity rose 5% y-o-y to SAR923m at end-2020. This reflected a stable underwriting policy, recording its best on records combined ratio at 96.9%.

In line with its strategy to develop international business, Saudi Re has been successful in building strong relationships with clients and brokers outside its home market, projecting an image of an emerging and reliable Middle Eastern reinsurer. In 2020, its international business grew by 25% to represent 63% of the overall portfolio with an increasing presence in more than 40 countries across Asia, Middle East, Africa and Lloyd’s market.

Being the country’s sole reinsurer, Saudi Re has engaged in various initiatives to promote professional practices, improve offerings and address insurance gaps. For example, it leads the development of the new mandatory inherent defects insurance as the exclusive reinsurer of the Inherent Defects Coinsurance Programme in 2020 for five years.

As part of its digital transformation strategy, Saudi Re initiated many projects during 2020 including building data warehouse (ACORD international standards) and business intelligence infrastructure, upgrading operations and financial systems and implementing assets management system. Moreover, it has significantly improved communication facilities, data connectivity and cyber security protection measures to ensure maximum availability of IT services during the pandemic.

Saudi Re is the first Middle Eastern reinsurer to publish a sustainability report. It aims to set an example of adopting sustainable practices and ESG performance voluntary disclosure, as well as improve the image of insurance in society.

Reinsurance Broker of the Year
Chedid Re

Chedid Re has been named the winner of the Reinsurance Broker of the Year award for the sixth time, a testimony to the strength of its operations, market expertise and ability to respond to market trends.

Since Chedid Re was established 23 years ago, the pillars of its success have remained unchanged. Firstly, a strong network of 41 affiliates across three continents. Secondly, considerable investments into market intelligence and research capabilities that allow it to predict rather than react to industry dynamics. Lastly, its longstanding client, partner and shareholder relationships built on mutual grounds of trust, transparency and respect.

In 2020, its parent group Chedid Capital acquired 80% stake in ASCOMA’s insurance brokerage business in Africa, expanding its network to 22 new subsidiaries and 780 employees across 21 African countries. The expansion will be a boon for Chedid Re’s business, helping diversify its portfolio, talent pool, market expertise and risk, as well as enable it to stay ahead of the market.

To maintain its leadership position in the reinsurance business, Chedid Re has boosted its investments into talent development, client and partner education and market research and data. The risk social committee, a pillar of its risk management strategy, also continues to heavily invest into upskilling talent to assess its clients’ capacity providers.

Chedid Re’s code of ethics and business conduct manual has set stringent guidelines across all aspects of its business such as fair dealing and honest representation. Moreover, its robust internal control framework has been developed on three lines of defence: the placement leaders; the quality control department; and the governance, risk, and compliance department.

Chedid Re has demonstrated agility and innovation in mitigating systemic and pandemic-related risks across regional markets in 2020, leveraging its cyber security and data infrastructure and delivering consistently on its product and service excellence throughout a challenging transition period.

It is making headways in adopting digital signatures as an official way to conduct business and authenticate documents, where legally viable. This transformation will not only streamline internal processes and reduce inefficiencies, but also equip Chedid Re as a sustainable and green business of the future.

TPA of the Year
Nextcare

For the sixth year running, Nextcare has clinched the TPA of the Year award for its commitment to service excellence and ability to harness technology to provide innovative healthcare solutions to its partners and customers.

During COVID-19, Nextcare demonstrated the ability to quickly and effectively respond to the pandemic by helping to keep the community and its insured members safe. Nextcare has ensured that its services are fully provided despite remote working and has a dedicated business development management team to handle and manage policies and payers exclusively. As a result, it achieved an 80% to 90% of renewal policies across the region.

To achieve efficiencies in service levels, Nextcare has launched several digitally-enabled solutions on telehealth through the MyNextcare in the UAE and other countries in the region during period covering March 2020 to April 2021. The solutions include video consultation and chatbot for members, drug delivery and appointment booking. It has also introduced an online symptom checker for patients in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

As a trusted partner in health management, Nextcare’s services cover lifelong health of insured members. It has delivered end-to-end business solution for claims management and has achieved: +8.5m claims processed; +AED4.3bn ($1.17bn) in premiums under management; +4.5m pre-certification claims; and +230K reimbursement claims. It has also implemented strong controls that prevent and/or detect fraudulent behaviour to keep the cost down and drive savings.

As a regulated organisation, Nextcare has demonstrated its commitment to work with regulators to ensure that health regulations are followed for the good of its customers and business partners. It also ensures that all companies involved in the insurance industry comply with the insurance laws and regulations that control the industry. Its compliance programmes such as AML, anti-corruption, fraud, economic sanctions and anti-trust adhere to the local laws and local regulations issued by the regulators.

Law Firm of the Year
Clyde & Co

Clyde & Co was one of the first legal firms in the region to establish a dedicated specialist insurance practice. Its Middle East team comprises nine partners specialising in different aspects of insurance law and 20 insurance lawyers.

The firm advises most of the global (re)insurers on their Middle East interests. Over the last 30 years, the team has been involved in every significant development in the regional market. This includes advising the first insurance entrants to the DIFC; drafting laws and regulations introducing compulsory health insurance in Abu Dhabi and Dubai; establishing the Lloyd’s platform in the DIFC; advising on significant mergers and acquisition deals in the region as well as on the three largest bancassurance transactions in the region; coordinating the life insurance industry’s response to the consultation draft of the new UAE life insurance regulations; involvement with several high-profile regulatory investigations and the ensuing directors and officers liability implications; handling claims arising from the region’s most significant losses; responsible for the first reinsurance case judgment in the DIFC Courts; establishing innovative new structures to serve the regional insurance industry, including new InsurTech entities; and being at the forefront of the industry’s approach to pandemic-related business interruption claims.

Besides providing deep expertise, the company is committed to the education and development of the market. It has a broad client training menu and it regularly coordinates client training sessions and market education events. It has organised the annual Emirates Insurance Association training event for the last 10 years.

The company is a founding member of the DIFC Insurance Association and provided pro-bono assistance in setting up the DIFC’s first genuine market organisation.

It has several innovative structures to assist clients with legal services that include a ‘no-win, no-fee’ recovery solution. Clyde & Co established Gulf Recoveries in 2012 as a separately-licensed company to offer a total subrogation solution for insurance recoveries on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis. It also provides trade credit insurers and export credit agencies with tailored services for trade credit insurance recoveries. It provides proactive, timely and cost-effective debt recovery solutions and offers clients the unrivalled levels of technical knowledge, resource and experience expected from a leading international law firm.

Its cyber incident response services span each stage of the breach-response timeline, from pre-breach preventative action to post-breach incident management and the handling of third party claims. It operates a 24-hour hotline, connecting clients to a lawyer no matter where or when an incident occurrs. The team offers the market fixed-fee volume casualty support.

Through its ‘Clyde & Community’ programme, the firm has provided over 2,000 hours in pro-bono legal support for charitable and non-profit organisations in the Middle East with an equivalent value of over $1m over the last 12 months.

Educational & Training Initiative of the Year
Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance

Bahrain Institute of Banking Finance (BIBF) is renowned for the regional reach of its Centre for Insurance and offers diplomas accredited by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). The BIBF is the only institute offering a pathway to Dip CII in Arabic.

To meet evolving market needs, the institute launched the BIBF Award for Certified Insurance Practitioner (ACIP) and the Professional Award for Certified Insurance Practitioner (PASIP). The training is conducted on BIBF’s in-house e-learning platform; MyClass 2.0.

The two certifications were designed and developed in 2020, but the launch was impeded by the pandemic. BIBF continued operations using its MyClass 2.0 platform but to maintain the validity of the assessments, written final exams were still conducted physically. All modules of the ACIP and three of the five units of PASIP have been online. Exams continued to be conducted physically, with candidate pass rates of 60% to 70%.

In Bahrain, both the ACIP and PASIP are covered by the training levy paid by BIBF members. Bahraini insurance employees can register for both qualifications for free. Non-Bahraini employees normally pay 25% of the standard fees. However, in response to COVID-19, BIBF waived such fees in 2020 and 2021.

The qualifications can be registered from anywhere in the region and BIBF has accepted candidates from GCC countries. Exams will be held in BIBF’s approved exam centres across the region. BIBF is also willing and capable of creating local versions of qualifications. For example, BIBF has demonstrated that it is capable of creating a local version of motor insurance for any Arab country. It is in the process of creating local Arabic versions of the miscellaneous and consumer module as well as the liability insurance module for the Palestinian Capital Market Authority to be used in an examination in November 2021.

Strategic Partner to the Industry
Badri Management Consultancy

It is the second year in a row that Badri has bagged the Strategic Partner of the Industry award, a testimony to its client-centric delivery approach, service orientation and strategically driven solutions.

With its headquarters in Dubai, UAE and an office in Karachi, Pakistan, Badri’s clients are spread across MENA including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt. It has served more than 110 unique clients to date and is currently serving as appointed actuary for more than 14 UAE insurance companies and 23 in the GCC.

As part of its client-centric delivery approach, Badri has undertaken several initiatives including using its management performance dashboards to provide updated analytics and KPIs to c-suite executives and help them monitor their business efficiently. It also provides benchmarking services for motor and medical lines, ensuring customised benchmarking to its clientele that gives them the leverage to assess both the macro and micro views of benchmarking data. Badri, through its expanding technology partnerships, has integrated GLMs bringing transparency and ensuring compliance in pricing workflow.

To support the advancement of actuarial profession, Badri has partnered with the University of Karachi and Coaching Actuaries to offer the opportunity for aspiring young actuaries by providing scholarships for actuarial exams. In addition to launching its own actuarial learning programmes, Badri has, through the platform of a HR consulting firm (metier), made a sizable contribution towards technical learning of the actuarial professionals.

Badri has also formed strategic partnerships with a number of solutions providers to drive the development of the insurance industry and help clients implement processes and solutions practically.

In addition, it regularly publishes insurance industry reports for markets like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman and has now further extended its coverage to Pakistan. It also publishes periodic newsletters related to medical, IFRS17 and end of service benefits.

Corporate Risk Manager of the Year
Mr Ahmed Ragab, Gulf Insurance Group

Mr Ahmed Ragab is recognised for his expertise in risk management. He has played a leading role in gig’s success in risk management. As a group risk and actuarial manager, Mr Ragab leads the enterprise risk management (ERM) and actuarial developments for all gig companies, including some affiliates, across 11 countries. He is a risk committee member in some of the group companies including Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

Along with his team, he plays a vital strategic role in the development of risk and actuarial functions with operational excellence across the region. He visits the group companies regularly and provides training to local teams on ERM and other technical areas. He gathers all risk managers at least twice a year to discuss common projects and new group initiatives.

Mr Ragab and his team lead the credit rating projects. He has worked as a senior actuarial accountant with Allianz-Egypt, building a unique function within the finance division that links insurance technicalities and financial planning. He has renovated the life business plans and created property and casualty business plans with new profitability indicators and strategic objectives.

He was seconded in 2018 to work as an actuarial analyst with global experts at Fairfax Financial Holdings in Toronto. He evaluated subsidiaries’ reserves, analysed operational performance, supported the actuarial pricing team and streamlined various actuarial processes. Post-secondment, he applied his learnings to gig and created new values for insurance optimisations, reserving adequacy, acquiring new technologies and building a solid infrastructure for the new IFRSI7 standards across the group. The group’s actuarial and risk management remains a control function that provides independent assurance and unbiased opinion on reserve and premium.

In 2014, Mr Ragab was certified as an international certified valuation specialist from the IACVA Institute. In 2019, he became an associate actuary with the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. He has a bachelor’s degree with honours in actuarial science from Cairo University in Egypt.

Woman Leader of the Year
Ms Yolla El Khoury, ACE Holding

Ms El Khoury has been named the Woman Leader of the Year in recognition of her diverse experience, leadership skills and passion for women’s empowerment.

She started working at ACE in 2010 as group vice president, independently handling all the reinsurance placements of major projects of important clients in regional and international markets. She achieved substantial growth in all the offices outside of Saudi Arabia in the reinsurance division, which led to her promotion in 2019 to the role of CEO.

As the first woman CEO of the group, Ms El Khoury is in charge of managing day-to-day operations, helping to achieve shareholders’ objectives and achieving the targets set in annual budgets and long-term business plans.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Ms El Khoury has overcome the perception that her gender may be an issue by performing beyond expectations. Through her persistence and perseverance, she is now a strong negotiator with clients and ultimately a highly recognised and well-respected businessperson.

In recognition of her achievements, Ms El Khoury was invited to speak at regional events to share her experiences. In May 2021 she was invited to be among the panellists for Scotwork Webinar titled ‘Women in Negotiation’ and in September 2019, she gave a keynote speech on women empowerment at a Lloyd’s regional conference. She also personally empowers other female staff at work and the ratio of women in senior positions has increased substantially since she joined.

Ms El Khoury demonstrated her leadership qualities during difficult times like the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping employees motivated and rallying the team no matter the circumstances. During the pandemic, she created a health committee within the company to check on the welfare of all employees and provide adequate support by conducting regular online meetings.

To boost morale, she set up, along with the marketing team, trivia games and competitions on the company intranet, sharing daily activities to keep employees engaged while working from home for business continuity purposes during the pandemic.

She currently sits on ACE board of directors and is also a board member of the DIFC Insurance Association.

Young Leader of the Year
Mr Hatim Maskawala, Badri Management Consultancy

Mr Maskawala has won the Young Leader of the Year award in recognition of his expertise in actuarial, underwriting, claims management and risk management functions.Mr Maskawala, a registered actuary in the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman, is the co-founder and managing director of Badri. He has over two decades of experience in health, general and life insurance businesses.

In late 2014, he set up his own consulting practice with the aim of giving back to the industry and helping it grow. The achievements under his leadership include: Serving 110 over clients across six countries; serving as appointed actuary to around 23 companies in the GCC; and employing more than 80 staff in two countries. His clients include insurance and reinsurance companies, TPAs, government entities, hospitals/providers, insurance system providers and audit firms.

As part of professional development and giving back to the industry, Mr Maskawala holds various voluntary positions in a number of entities. These include: Chairman of the SAMA working group on IFRS17 (KSA); member of the Emirates Insurance Association’s technical sub-committee; member of IFoA pool of investigation actuaries; and member of non-life taskforce of PSOA.

Mr Maskawala has also promoted collaborative relationships that help to advance industry standards. Badri has partnered with a leading European actuarial software solutions provider, bringing the benefits of their actuarial software to the GCC region for purposes such as pricing, reserving and capital modelling. It has also partnered with an internal controls and compliance firm to provide a wider array of services including internal audit, forensic accounting, FACTA, AML reviews and other compliance related services.

He is a regular speaker at various conferences. Under his guiding vision, Badri has been conducting annual conferences in Dubai since 2015 and also organised industry workshops both in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In 2020 Badri conducted a webinar on the ‘Current challenges in non-life pricing: Risk and opportunities’ which was attended by participants from across the GCC and other regions.

Personality of the Year
Mr Chakib Abouzaid, General Arab Insurance Federation (GAIF)

Mr Abouzaid was named the Personality of the Year award for his commitment to the development of the Arab insurance industry.

Mr Abouzaid, who has been working in the insurance industry for the last 33 years, was elected as GAIF secretary general in 2019. Prior to this appointment, he served in various positions including: Takaful project consultant - Atlanta-Sanad, Morocco (2019); group marketing officer - GMRB (DIFC) (2013-2018); adviser to the CEO - Arabia Insurance (2013); CEO - Takaful Re (2005-2013); GM - Best Re Middle East and Gulf (2000-2005); and vice chairman - Global Takaful Group (2010-2013). He was also previously the ambassador for the International Insurance Society.

As secretary general of GAIF, Mr Abouzaid has worked tirelessly with his team to modernise and change the perception of the institution by the insurance community across the region and worldwide.

During the last two years, they have undertaken several initiatives such as promoting digitalisation, introducing orange card electronic link, launched the weekly GAIF newsletter and organised webinars. Other initiatives include improving the visual identity of the federation, maintaining an active presence on the social media and launching a new version of the GAIF magazine (with additional technical details and in line with the developments within the industry).

Mr Abouzaid’s current vision is to promote insurance and encourage professionals to embrace digitalisation and work on improving the image of the industry and its contribution to Arab countries’ GDP. His main objective is to keep GAIF at the forefront of a regional effort to achieve greater financial inclusion and to reduce the insurance protection gap.

As a reinsurance professional, Mr Abouzaid has always advocated cooperation within the region and among the regional reinsurance companies in order for them to be in a position to provide lead lines and underwrite specialty LOB. In addition, he has been active in promoting the concept of takaful/retakaful, financial inclusion and education.

Mr Abouzaid is also a frequent speaker at various conferences and seminars.

Middle East Insurance Industry Awards 2021 finalists

Life Insurance Company of the Year
  • MetLife Gulf
  • Orient Insurance PJSC
  • Zurich International Life Limited, Middle East
Health Insurance Company of the Year
  • Bupa Arabia
  • Cigna Insurance Middle East
  • Orient Insurance PJSC
Takaful Company of the Year
  • National Takaful Company Watania, PJSC
  • SALAMA Islamic Arab Insurance Co. (P.S.C)
  • Takaful International Company B.S.C.
Digital Initiative of the Year
  • Cigna Insurance Middle East
  • MetLife Gulf
  • Oman Insurance Company (P.S.C.)
Broker of the Year
  • Marsh Middle East & Africa
  • Nexus Insurance Brokers LLC
  • Arya Insurance Brokerage Co
Strategic Partner of the Industry
  • Badri Management Consultancy
  • KPMG
  • Oliver Wyman
Reinsurance Broker of the Year
  • Chedid Re
  • Willis Re International
Woman Leader of the Year
  • Lina Hantas, Senior Executive Officer, ArgoGlobal (Dubai)
  • Raghad Hammad, Partner & Executive Director, Zu’bi & Partners
  • Yolla El Khoury, CEO, ACE Holding
General Insurance Company of the Year
  • Gulf Insurance Group (GIG)
  • Orient Insurance PJSC
  • Qatar Insurance Company
TPA of the Year
  • MedNet
  • Neuron LLC
  • Nextcare Claims Management LLC
Educational & Training Initiative of the Year
  • Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance
  • Corporate Risk Management Institute
  • Oman Insurance Company (P.S.C.)
Corporate Risk Manager of the Year
  • Ahmed Ragab, Gulf Insurance Group
  • Khalid Hamad Almofeez, American Express
  • Ravi Bijotra, Friends Provident International Limited
Reinsurance Company of the Year
  • AIG MEA Limited (DIFC)
  • Munich Re
  • Saudi Re
Law Firm of the Year
  • BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP
  • Clyde & Co
  • Norton Rose Fulbright (Middle East) LLP
Young Leader of the Year
  • Hatim Maskawala, Co-founder and Managing Director of Badri Management Consultancy
  • Nicola Garelli, CEO, Beema Insurance
  • Yasmeen Al-Sharaf, Head, Fintech & Innovation Unit, Central Bank of Bahrain