Atlas Magazine June 2012

MENA zone: new leadership

We are far behind the time when Iraq and Egypt used to dominate the Arab insurance market. Today, the drivers of the MENA zone are called United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. This reshuffle at the level of leadership has occurred following a long-term shift of the insurance landscape in an area that stretches over two continents.

In the course of the recent ten years, insurance in the Gulf countries has undergone more mutation that it had during the forty years consecutive to the birth of theses States. The passage from oil extraction-based economy to an international-level service economy has been a success story. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Jeddah have become huge hubs attracting investors from all horizons. This economic success has materialized through a considerable growth of insurance premiums.

United Arab Emirates, where the premiums collected by a multitude of small companies in 2001 rose from 760 million USD to 6.5 billion USD in 2011 underwritten by better structured and better capitalized companies, was at the origin of this renaissance.

The other success story is Saudi Arabia whose turning point was initiated by the legalization of insurance activities at the beginning of the 2000s.
Within ten years, Saudi Arabia’s premiums went fourfold, rising from 992 million USD in 2001 to 4.310 billion USD in 2010, the target being 10 billion USD of turnover in 2015.

On the African continent, Morocco’s success is not accounted for by petrodollars but by internal structural adjustments. Since the beginning of 1990, regulators have introduced a set of compulsory coherent measures whose implementation has been entrusted to a powerful authority. Furthermore, the establishment of great national private groups has been strongly encouraged.

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