Qatar Insurance to Focus on New Markets to Offset Saudi-Led Spat

  • GCC standoff making company look at expanding in Oman
  • Qatar Insurance gets 30% of group business from Gulf region

Qatar Insurance Co., the Middle East and North Africa’s largest insurer by market capitalization, is focusing on new countries to offset the impact of the Saudi-led campaign to isolate the gas-rich Arab state, a senior executive said.

“The spat has made us focus on newer markets like Oman,” Salem Khalaf Al-Mannai, chief executive officer for the Middle East and North Africa region, said in an interview in Doha on Monday. “In the past three months we have secured business in Oman that is equivalent to our Abu Dhabi business.”

Salem Khalaf Al-Mannai

Source: Qatar Insurance Co.

The Doha-based company, which gets 30 percent of its group’s business from the Gulf region, considers the impact of the regional standoff on its operations in the United Arab Emirates to be “minimal,” Al-Mannai said. “The U.A.E. business, though a strategically very important market, represents a small percentage of the overall QIC Group business.”

Qatar Insurance is exploring options to make sure to sustain its position in the U.A.E., he said. The insurer still has an active license in Abu Dhabi and the renewal process is underway, he said.

Severed Ties

Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing the nation of supporting Sunni extremist groups and Iranian-backed militants. Qatar has repeatedly denied the charges.

Qatar Insurance has been in Abu Dhabi since 2002, and its underwriting gross premium in the market is about 110 million riyals ($30 million) a year. The shares have lost 19 percent this year compared with a 21 percent drop for the benchmark QE Index.

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