UAE Banks Federation reiterates importance of supporting SMEs

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The UAE Banks Federation help SMEs by facilitating their access to banking services.

The UAE Banks Federation (UBF) recently organised a webinar on growth opportunities and innovation of banking solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the theme “Changing Landscape of SME Banking in the UAE”, as part of its efforts to support this important sector and enhance its role in the economic and social development in the UAE.

The webinar discussed ways to support the small and medium enterprise sectors by facilitating their access to banking services and providing them with the necessary funding enabling them to play an important role in driving various economic sectors and creating more jobs.

The UAE Banks Federation underscored the importance of providing appropriate banking and financing solutions to SMEs, especially in the past period, which was marked by challenges due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the SME sector.

The workshop also discussed opportunities to improve the banking system and develop innovative banking and financial solutions that meet the needs of SMEs and help them improve their banking, especially in the context of digital transformation in the banking sector and the economy in general.

The webinar was attended by several officials, experts, banking and financial sector professionals and government agencies involved in supporting the sector, Marwan Al Suwaidi, Director of Finance, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Pradeep Rana, Group Chief Risk Officer, FAB; and Imad Gharazeddine, Co-founder and CEO of Mamo.

Ahmed Al Naqbi, CEO of Emirates Development Bank, gave a presentation on government initiatives to support the sector, while renowned media personality Richard Dean moderated the following panel discussion on ways to facilitate SMEs’ access to financial and banking services.

Jamal Saleh, Director-General of the UAE Banks Federation, said, “SMEs represent a vital sector and a key driver of many economies around the world. In the UAE, they account for more than 90 per cent of all businesses, contribute more than 60 per cent of the GDP and provide jobs for around 85 per cent of all private sector employees.

“There are many pioneering initiatives by the government to encourage the growth of these enterprises, such as the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, as they contribute to accelerating and deepening the strategy of economic diversification and create more employment opportunities in line with the UAE’s objectives to focus on the knowledge economy and innovation.”

Closing the webinar, Dhiraj Kunwar, Managing Director of Business Banking, RAKBANK, and Chairman of the SME Committee of UAE Banks Federation, delivered a speech summarising the key outcomes and recommendations, emphasising the Federation’s determination to continue supporting the sector.

Meanwhile Abdulaziz Al-Ghurair, Chairman of UAE Banks Federation (UBF), the unified representative and voice of UAE banks, said that the banking sector in the UAE has a solid foundation to continue to grow and meet fast-evolving customer requirements as he spoke at the Abu Dhabi Financial Week.

The event, organised by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) in cooperation with the Department of Economic Development – Abu Dhabi, was participated by UAE Banks Federation as a strategic partner.

Addressing over 500 prominent investors and experts in the financial sector from 30 countries at the event, he said, “UAE banks are well capitalised and profitable, which are prerequisites to enhancing the stability of the sector in the long term, under the supervision of the Central Bank of the UAE.”

Abdulaziz Al-Ghurair praised UAE Banks Federation’s strategic partnership with ADGM, which constitutes an essential platform for exchanging expertise and experiences to strengthen the banking and financial sector in the UAE through various initiatives and events.

Healso explained that the UAE’s banking sector has achieved significant progress, with assets growing 12 times from $75 billion in 2000 to more than $900 billion in 2022, which represents an increase from 70 per cent of UAE’s nominal GDP in 2000 to more than 250 per cent in 2022, positioning UAE banking sector at par with the growth rate in leading global markets.

He stated that today, UAE is among the top seven financial hubs in the world, noting that specialised financial centres, particularly Abu Dhabi Global Market and Dubai International Financial Centre, have played an important role in developing the financial sector and placing it on the global map. At the same time, they are home to more than 7,000 companies and employ more than 44,000 people from various countries.

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