The Union of Arab Banks (UAB) urged Arab countries to carry out economic and legislative reform to create a favourable context for direct foreign investment that will stimulate growth.
The UAB’s recommendation came during a three-day forum held in Sharm El-Sheikh that aimed to address the role of financing and investment in promoting financial inclusion and stability while countering the rise of militant, anti-state action.
Participants in the forum called upon Arab banks and financing institutions to adopt new financing models for infrastructure projects, as they play a vital role in stimulating the economy.
Forum participants also recommended that Arab states modernise the organisation of their capital markets by increasing the depth of investment, expanding their client base, raising investment awareness levels, introducing new financial instruments, and activating listing operations of companies.
“A percentage of investments in Arab banks must be allocated to fields of innovation and scientific research”, according to a statement by UAB, an effort that it stated is necessary to ensure new sources of knowledge.
The UAB stressed the importance of activating strategic integrative partnerships between the private and public sector in Arab states, as well as activating the role of banks in financing sustainable development projects that aim to create job opportunities for the youth demographic.
The UAB also called upon the governments of, and monitoring agents in, Arab states to take into consideration financial inclusion as a strategic goal.
The UAB emphasised the role technological solutions can serve as effective tools to promote financial inclusion while also achieving economic goals. Moreover, it is essential to activate the role of risk capital companies and direct investment funds in providing necessary financing for entrepreneurs and individuals with creative ideas.
The UAB also stressed that financial institutions in Arab countries should adopt a risk-based model in order to counter money laundering and financing terrorism.
“Arab banks must work on enhancing transparency as a basis for principles of financial protection for consumers. This will increase the confidence in the banking system, and contribute to expanding the client base of all segments of society, whether individuals or institutions, enabling them to make correct financial decisions,” the UAB statement said.
The UAB also called upon Arab banks to establish cluster networks for all authorities concerned with supporting SMEs to continue serving the sector and help it obtain necessary financing.
The forum began on Thursday with coordination between the UAB, the CBE, and the Federation of Egyptian Banks (FEB).
The forum’s opening was presided over by Mohamed Barakat, chairman of UAB, Tarek Fayed, deputy of the CBE who served as a representative of Governor of CBE Tarek Amer, Hisham Okasha, chairman of FEB, and Khaled Fouda, South Sinai governor.
The forum was attended by over 200 participants from 14 Arab countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Palestine.