HSBC Qatar is marking its 70th anniversary by reflecting on seven decades of pioneering milestones, contributions to the nation’s economic development, and a symbiotic partnership that has fuelled growth for Qatar and the global financial institution.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf Times, HSBC Qatar CEO Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi elaborated on the key achievements over the past 70 years that transformed the bank into a dominant force combining local expertise with worldwide connectivity.
“Our growth story in Qatar is aligned directly to the country’s economic transformation, which has been shaped by visionary leadership – both in government and institutions, such as the Qatar Central Bank,” Mostafawi stated.
HSBC was one of the first international banks locally incorporated when it received its license in March 1954, said Mostafawi, emphasising that it didn’t take long for HSBC to start racking up an extensive list of pioneering firsts and milestones.
Many of the bank’s achievements are the product of combining local expertise and global connections to deliver unique banking solutions, Mostafawi explained, adding that this includes installing Qatar’s first ATM in 1986, setting off the nation’s digital banking journey.
Other key milestones include introducing electronic banking for corporates (1987), opening Qatar’s first custody services (1998), acting as lead manager for the government's debut Islamic sukuk issuance (2004), launching the country’s first investment banking platform and introducing Institutional Fund Services (2005), and opening a digitally-focused branch in Msheireb (2020). More recently, HSBC has emerged as a thought leader in cutting-edge areas like digital tokenisation and generative AI applications for banking.
Throughout its 70-year presence, HSBC has played a pivotal role in catalysing Qatar’s economic rise and diversification agenda. “We have supported the public and private sectors to grow with the country's ambitions, especially focusing on economic diversification,” Mostafawi said.
He said HSBC helped government entities identify and invest in international opportunities outside the oil and gas sectors through pioneering investment banking services. The bank was also the first to provide custody services, facilitating foreign investment inflows.
HSBC’s advisory expertise was instrumental in major transactions like Industries Qatar's historic IPO in 2009 – then the nation’s largest. “We were the adviser on that milestone IPO on the Qatar Stock Exchange,” noted Mostafawi.
Today, Mostafawi said HSBC is at the forefront of Qatar’s sustainable finance drive as it transitions to a more sustainable economy: “We play a leading role in the transition to net zero by providing expert advice and supporting customers in their transition journeys. This includes establishing sustainable finance frameworks for stakeholders.”
The bank’s strategic priorities align with Qatar National Vision 2030 across the economic, human, environmental and social development pillars.
Economically, HSBC continues attracting foreign investors, supporting multinationals’ growth in Qatar, and identifying international investment opportunities for local entities to aid diversification.
On the human development front, the bank is deeply invested in upskilling Qatari talent, with nationals comprising 37% of its workforce. Its employee policies, such as hybrid work models, are industry-leading for work-life balance.
Environmentally, HSBC is the go-to thought leader for ESG and green finance solutions. “We are frequently represented at major conferences like COP28, Bloomberg’s Qatar Financial Market Forum, and the Qatar Foundation’s Earthna Summit 2023 to share our expertise. The bank has pioneered green lending in Qatar across various initiatives,” Mostafawi said.
HSBC’s social development impact is through corporate sustainability activities like financial literacy programmes and volunteering as a responsible corporate citizen.
Looking ahead, Mostafawi sees HSBC’s primary role as Qatar’s preeminent trade finance bank bridging local businesses with cross-border trade and supply chain solutions. We offer a full suite of products including sophisticated solutions to support the country’s economic diversification into high-growth sectors like renewable energy, tourism, healthcare, and education," he said.
He said HSBC has already supported prominent Qatari family business groups in acquiring European real estate, establishing regional operations, and investing in major renewable projects abroad by connecting them with global opportunities.
Mostafawi noted that HSBC aims to open up a world of opportunity for clients, which becomes a reality when they are connected to international growth prospects through digital channels.
He said HSBC became the first bank globally to enable straight-through digital processing for bank guarantees issued to a Qatari client via its cutting-edge trade finance platform. Another key offering is HSBC’s market-leading securities services that give international investors access to investment prospects in Qatar’s rapidly developing capital markets.
As HSBC Qatar commemorates its 70th anniversary in Qatar, Mostafawi said: “HSBC has been supporting Qatar for 70 years, providing local expertise and global connections to help customers grow their wealth. We are committed to opening up a world of opportunity for customers with international banking needs and ambitions to grow and prosper internationally.
“We have the heritage and expertise, clients and connectivity, scale and successes, strength in sustainability, the people and the values that we are proud to deploy in the service of our Qatar and its people every day.”
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