Qatari banks have proved they “remained solid and strong,” despite the siege laid on the country by the quartet of nations, said QIIB chief executive officer Dr Abdulbasit Ahmad al-Shaibei.
“The siege on our country has caught us by surprise. In the banking sector, we always have the risk assessment for different scenarios. But we never thought we will be blockaded by our own brothers,” al-Shaibei told Gulf Times in an interview.
“From the beginning, it (blockade) was a surprise to us…to the international community. But by God’s grace, and with the contingency plan the Qatar Central Bank and the banks had in place, we managed to overcome the problem in a short time and its tackle negative impacts,” al-Shaibei said.
Asked whether the move by banks in the blockading nations to limit their exposure to Qatar would have an impact on the country’s banking system, al-Shaibei said, “They have already started withdrawing their funds. In fact, most of their funds have already been withdrawn. Still, we remain very solid…our banks are strong. Qatar has a good reputation; Qatari banks also have a good reputation. Our market is not made up of these four countries…the international market is open to us.”
Al-Shaibei said, “The good thing that has happened, post-blockade, is that we have ventured into new areas, gone into markets we have not tapped before and tapped new sources of liquidity. “In the long-term, this will be good for us. Because, Qatari banks are very well diversified now rather than concentrating on certain markets alone,” he said.
On concerns over sovereign rating coming under pressure because of the blockade, al-Shaibei said, “In terms of rating, Qatar will maintain its high, strong rating. We already are an ‘AA’ economy. Our main line of exports is not at all affected because of the siege. Our prime export commodities such as liquefied natural gas and crude oil are being exported to their targeted countries. Also, the quartet of blockading countries is not the main market for us.”
Al-Shaibei was optimistic that Qatar’s liquidity would “improve” in future.
“Eventually, the burden on us will come down. We are well past the phase of initial shocks.”
Citing the recent GDP figures, he said, “Our economy continues to grow and as Qatari banks we are confident we will benefit from our country’s overall growth.”
Highlighting the formal opening of QIIB’s new state-of-the-art branch at the Doha Festival City, al-Shaibei said, “This is the best example of the fact that Qatari banks are not shrinking. We are optimistic about the Qatari economy. We believe there are plenty of growth opportunities in our country. That’s why we expanding here in Qatar and in a way that will contribute to our national economy.”
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