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2017 report reaffirms robust, resilient UAE banking industry   

 The UAE Banks Federation (UBF) has officially released its annual report for the year 2017, shedding light on major developments, and trends in the UAE banking sector as well as local and regional economies. The report also highlights UBF key initiatives and events which continue to contribute significantly to the banking sector in UAE.

Established in 1982, the UAE Banks Federation is a professional representative body comprising 50-member banks operating in the UAE.

UAE banking contribution to economy

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The report underscores that the UAE’s banking sector remained strong and robust in 2017 with an uptick in growth on the back of strong economic momentum in the country. Driven by a diversified economy, higher government spending, and growth in trade, the UAE economy expanded by 1.5 % in 2017, reflecting a sustained increase in investments and consumer confidence. The ongoing rebound in the global economy, steady recovery in oil prices, improved fiscal outlook and higher deposits from the government further stimulated the growth in the sector.

“At the UAE Banks Federation, 2017 was a remarkable year for us” noted HE AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of the UAE Banks Federation, in his introduction message to the annual report. “Banks were well capitalized and comfortably liquid, reporting a healthy growth in deposits and a moderating growth in credit and improvement on a number of performance metrics.”

“Going forward, 2018 seems to be an exciting year for the UAE in general and the banking sector in particular. Anticipated higher oil prices, VAT revenues, further diversification of the economy and the build-up to Expo 2020 will lead to a better government fiscal position, higher investments and spending to further drive the economy. On the back of improved economy, UAE banking sector will have better growth across deposits and credits.” added Al Ghurair.

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The 2017 annual report highlights the contributions of the UBF CEO Advisory Council, UBF’s diversified technical committees as well as member banks towards creating a stable, competitive and innovative banking sector capable of meeting the customers’ expectations and contributing to the country economic development.

It also emphasizes that UBF’s initiatives during the year, including the launch of TASHARUK, a cybersecurity intelligence platform to counter cyber risk and threats, a compliance framework assessment to highlight key components of AML and compliance and an ethical selling framework highlighting recommendation for ethical sales practices, further strengthened the banking sector.

In September 2017, UBF launched its Tasharuk platform to equip banks with the necessary tools and intelligence to better identify, detect, and respond to cyber-attacks in the banking sector that faces challenges from the evolving cyber threat landscape. The introduction of the platform represents the establishment of the country’s first Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), which aggregates, correlates, and analyzes threat data from multiple sources in real-time to support defensive actions in member banks.

In response to ongoing regulatory changes, the federation developed an effective compliance framework within the banking sector that is aligned with the objective of outlining the key components of AML and sanctions compliance and controls.

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In order to proactively protect consumer’s interests, UBF created a set of recommendations that define a minimum standard for ethical sales practices to be adopted uniformly by banks in retail banking and wealth management. Similarly, the federation has put forward a paper which recommends best standards and practices to ensure robust governance and provide a solid foundation for Islamic windows in the country. The standards cover governance structure; staffing; product and accounting certification; assets and liabilities framework; operations and procedures; audit and training.

In addition, the report highlights the key findings of UBF’s annual Trust Index survey released which showed that trust levels remained high with 68% of respondents stated their trust in the UAE banking sector, and 93% of UAE retail banking customers indicated that they are satisfied with their banks.  The report also contains an overview of leading industry events organized by the federation in the past year, such as the Middle East Banking Forum 2017 and HIMAYA: Cyber Threat Intelligence Collaboration Forum.