The General Arab Insurance Federation (GAIF) is the umbrella organization for the insurance industry in Arab countries. Based in Cairo, Egypt, GAIF biannually convenes the regional sector’s landmark conferences. This year, the event is taking place in Beirut from May 10 to 12, and prepared by a committee chaired by Abraham Matossian, president of the Lebanese insurance association, ACAL. The Secretary General of GAIF, Abdul Khaleq Raouf Khalil, gave EXECUTIVE an interview explaining the role and positions of the Federation.
How many companies are members in the GAIF?
A: The Federation is an international Arab body, comprising 237 insurance and reinsurance companies, associations and national insurance unions. GAIF essentially aims to support relations among Arab insurance bodies and markets in order to promote cooperation among them and coordinate their various activities, with the aims of protecting member interests and developing the insurance sector in the Arab region.
By what methods are you pursuing those aims?
A: We concentrate our activities on four areas and main objectives. These areas are a) achieving economic integration among insurance markets in Arab countries; b) developing the insurance sector in the Arab region; c) supporting and developing business opportunities and activities of Federation members; and d) enhancing cooperation between the Federation and other Arab and international organizations and bodies. For each of these areas, we have identified a set of measures that we view as instrumental in furthering our aims.
Could you give us some examples of specific activities?
A: In seeking to achieve economic integration among Arab insurance markets, our activities include examining insurance legislations and systems in Arab countries, cooperation with Federation members in establishment of joint insurance companies, as well as cooperation in matters that could promote investment policies in insurance and reinsurance. We also strive to promote the Arab insurance market as a unified entity on the international scene. For developing our region’s insurance sector and dealing with the issues pertaining to Arab insurance activities, we are, among other things, engaged in forming both permanent and temporary expert technical committees and in establishing service and GAIF-affiliated consultancy centers that offer members technical, legal, and investment consultancy.
You are also committed to the education of Human Resources in the region?
A: Yes. We regard it as important to improve the technical and educational levels of employees in Arab insurance markets by exchanging expertise and information. To this end, we support the establishment of specialized insurance centers and institutes, along with the implementation of training programs and the organization of insurance conferences and seminars.
What role does Arabicizing of insurance language play in your efforts to integrate the sector?
A: Human and general resources available in Arab insurance markets must be employed to the greatest benefit. Arabicizing the insurance language means creating a unified terminology in Arabic and setting unified templates for insurance contracts, reinsurance agreements and other documents. This would help greatly to coordinate work among insurance companies in Arab countries.
How does GAIF contribute to the creation of new business opportunities for member companies?
A: Possibilities in this area begin with the publication of magazines and books that contribute to spreading awareness and integrated scientific thought in the insurance community and range to provision of arbitration and conflict mediation services for members. Conducting studies on the sector’s problems, collection and dissemination of statistics and information and regular expert meetings also are tools in developing the environment for new business growth for Federation members.
And what do you do to further the cooperation between GAIF and other Arab and international bodies?
A: We participate in international conferences and seminars related to insurance where we also coordinate the presence of Federation members by organizing exhibition involvement and stands. We extend a standing invitation to Arab organizations and bodies that are interested in insurance to attend our Federation’s conferences.
GAIF members will hold their 25th general conference this month in Beirut. Do you expect the event to mark a turning point for Arab insurance companies?
A: Beirut is preparing to host the 25th GAIF conference under the theme of “Arab Insurance: A Future Outlook.” We hope the conference will issue resolutions and recommendations that can be applied and would positively reflect on the Arab insurance sector.
What is the GAIF position on the role of insurance in developing Arab societies?
A: The Arab insurance industry plays an important role in supporting our national economies by providing insurance protection to individuals and institutions. This industry is also a main pillar of society as it gathers capital collected from insurance premiums and invests that capital in various economic areas, which reflects positively on the socio-economic level.
Mr. Khalil graciously granted this interview to EXECUTIVE via electronic transmission in Arabic, from which editorial staff extracted the English translation.