Experts provided insights on the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation in the financial sector within the Arab world
By ; Mohamed Elkholy
The 12th edition of The Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) hosted interactive and insightful discussions on digital transformation, financial inclusion and sustainable finance in the Arab world at the “Future Finance Forum,” which took place at the Sustainability Room of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre.
The opening ceremony featured welcome remarks from high-level dignitaries such as Rajaa Kammouny, Director & Advisor at the Secretary General Office – Union of Arab Banks; Dr. Wissam H. Fattouh, Secretary General - Union of Arab Banks; Mohamed Mahmoud Ahmed El-Etreby, President, Banque Misr; and H.E. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General – League of Arab States.
Kammouny, the host and Director/Advisor at the Secretary General Office of the Union of Arab Banks, discussed the challenges that they are currently facing and will face in the future. She emphasized the need to be prepared for all these challenges. Dr. Fattouh mentioned that their focus will be on investment opportunities and the sustainability of those investments. He highlighted that steps are being taken to ensure that the challenges they face are being solved.
El-Etreby, for his part, discussed in this forum the various ways to enhance business and the challenges that businesses are facing, especially due to the pandemic. He acknowledged that the pandemic has changed the economic world and that digital advancements have helped them become more advanced. H.E. Aboul Gheit expressed his gratitude to the Government of the UAE for their efforts in making the forum possible. He mentioned that they are already in the process of achieving digitalization and need to reassess the obstacles they are currently facing.
This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Digital Transformation of Financial Sectors in the Arab World and the Role of Financial Technology in Economic Diversification’. Experts in this session provided insights on the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation in the financial sector within the Arab world.
This session was led by Anwer Kotob- Moderator, Chief Digital/ Technology Officer, People Leader, United Arab Emirates; Hossam Heiba, General Authority for Investment and Free Zones; Malachi Halliday, CEO & Founder – Halliday Growth; and Rodrigo Garca De La Cruz, Founder & CEO – Finnovating.
Kotob discussed the role of Fintech in the Arab world and how it plays a crucial role in the development of financial countries. Heiba from GAFI discussed the digital transformation of sectors and the efficiency of Fintech in comparison to traditional methods. He also talked about how digitalization helps government services prosper during the pandemic and promotes investment opportunities using digital platforms.
Halliday emphasized the significance of startups in economic diversification, stating that access to working capital is crucial for their success. He explained how his company helps solve this challenge by granting easier access to working capital. De La Cruz, the Founder and CEO of Finnovating, emphasized the importance of collaboration and innovation in accelerating growth for companies. He also discussed the top three techs being used in Fintech, including AI and blockchain, and how Finnovating can help Fintechs find the right partners to work within the UAE.
In addition, there was a presentation by H.E. Su Xing, the Secretary-General of the Organizing Committee of the Boao Summit Forum on World Financial Firm Technology from the People's Republic of China, who highlighted how financial technology has become an important support for the development of countries around the world and how they are using digital technology, data resources, and intelligent technology to promote digitalization. He described the 'Shenquan Forecasting System,' which has an accuracy rate of up to 85% and helps guide financial institutions and individual users to increase their accounts up to 4 folds in 13 trading days. He also mentioned how China's financial technology companies are launching various innovative products and services, such as real-time global market forecasting technology, digital currency, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and big data, and have brought these financial technologies into the UAE.
The digital transformation of the financial sector in the Arab world has been accelerating in recent years. With the rise of financial technology (fintech), traditional financial institutions are increasingly adopting digital solutions to enhance their services and reach new customers. Fintech is also playing a significant role in economic diversification in the region, helping to create new business opportunities and stimulate innovation. Experts in this session highlighted that by leveraging advanced technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, fintech startups and established players are transforming the way financial services are delivered in the Arab world, making them more accessible, efficient, and secure. This, in turn, is fuelling economic growth and creating a more diversified and resilient economy in the region.